Peace group to BARMM, MILF leaders: use extension period to deliver promises to Bangsamoro people

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 30 October) – The peace advocacy group Mindanao People’s Caucus has called on the Bangsamoro government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to deliver their promises for the sake of the Bangsamoro people, now that its transition period is officially extended until June 30, 2025.

Lawyer Mary Ann Arnado, MPC secretary general, made the pronouncement after President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act (RA) 11593, resetting the first regular elections of the 80-member Parliament in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) from 2022 to 2025, effectively extending the transition period in the five-province, three-city Bangsamoro region.

“For the BARMM leadership and especially the MILF, may you utilize the extension period to deliver the promises and meet the expectations of the Moro people,” Arnado said.

Duterte signed RA 11593, which amended Section 13, Article XVI of RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, on Thursday, 28 October, but a copy of the law was released to the public only on Friday.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte sounds the gong to signal the inauguration of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex in Cotabato City on March 29, 2019, marking what he said was a “new dawn” for the Moro.’ Joining the President is BARMM interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ibrahim (MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim). ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

RA 11593, a consolidation of Senate Bill 2214 and House Bill 10121, postpones the Bangsamoro parliamentary elections and synchronizes it with the 2025 national and local elections.

In the May 2022 polls,  BARMM voters will still elect national candidates and their local officials —  governors, vice governors, board members, mayors, vice mayors and congressional representatives.

The new law states that during the extension of the transition period, the 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) shall continue as the interim government in the Bangsamoro region.

However, the President may appoint 80 new interim members of the BTA who shall serve up to June 30, 2025 or until their successors shall have been elected and qualified, according to RA 11593.

Last year, the MPC conducted a rapid midterm review on the achievements of the MILF-led BTA and echoed the recommendations from communities and focus group discussions, to push for the extension of the transition period in the Bangsamoro region to allow for more time for both the regional and national governments to implement RA 11054, the organic law for the BARMM and the enabling act of the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace agreement signed by the government and the MILF in 2014 after 17 years of negotiations. The BARMM replaced the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

In a statement, Bangsamoro Interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, also the MILF chair more known by his nom de guerre in the MILF as Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, thanked Duterte for extending the transition period in the BARMM.

“This extension, as what we have always said, was never and will never be about power,” Ebrahim said.

“The establishment and the triumph of the BARMM are not only directed to specific individuals or groups but to the whole Bangsamoro; especially for the next generations who will inherit whatever we leave to them during this transition period,” he added.

Ebrahim said the call towards extending the transition period in the Bangsamoro region “speaks the desire of our people in making sure that we have a strong regional bureaucracy that can address our decades-long challenges and make sure that a brighter future awaits them – free from corruption, from manipulation and from any ills of government.”

With the extension of the transition period, he called on the Bangsamoro stakeholders to move forward, set aside differences and help one another in transforming the region and its peoples.

Ebrahim backed the moves to extend the Bangsamoro transition period, noting the need for more time for the Bangsamoro government, the national government and the MILF to implement the provisions of the CAB, as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted their targets.

He also pointed out that the pandemic hampered the performance of the Bangsamoro government, including the delivery of basic services to its people. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)