DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 02 March) — The inaugural session of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the 80-member body that will govern the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) until June 30, 2022 has been set tentatively for the second week of March but final date will depend on the completion of the appointments of all members.
When Interim Chief Minister Al Haj Murad Ebrahim was asked after the turnover from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to the BARMM on February 26 when the inaugural session would be, he replied “sometime in March” but during the BTA caucus the next day, the inaugural session was tentatively set for March 11.
Evening of February 27, after their caucus, MindaNews asked when the inaugural session would be. He replied “will schedule once complete na BTA.”
Seventy-two took their oath of office last Friday, February 22, in Malacanang – 40 from the 41 nominees of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and 32 of the 39 members nominated by the government. The 41st MILF nominee, Bai Maleiha Candao, was unable to make it as she was recuperating from an ailment.
RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao provides that the transition body that will govern the BARMM until June 30, 2022, will be composed of 80 members appointed by the President and elected ARMM officials whose terms are supposed to expire on June 30, 2019, “shall automatically become members” of the BTA “and shall serve until noon of the 30th of June 2019.”
Beyond noon of June 30, 2019, it will be the 80-member BTA that will govern the BARMM until June 30, 2022.
Between now and June 30, 2019, the BTA will be composed of 103 members – 80 appointed by the President plus the remaining 23 elected ARMM officials.
A total of 26 officials are elected in the ARMM: Governor, Vice Governor and three assemblymen each for a total of 24 in all eight districts in the five-province, two-city region.
One assemblyman had earlier died, one was appointed to the BTA – Assemblyman Khadafeh “Toy” Mangudadatu of Maguindanao — and the ARMM’s last governor, Mujiv Hataman has opted out of the BTA, leaving only 23 elected ARMM officials joining the BTA until June 30 this year.
Hataman during his turnover speech on February 26, announced he would resign from the BTA to focus on the communities in Basilan where he is running for the lone congressional seat.
He assured Murad and the rest of the BTA that he would continue to help. TO Murad, he assured: “Anumang oras, bukas ang pinto at telepono ko para sa iyo. Kung may maitutulong ako, sa kahit anong paraan, lalo na kung para sa ikabubuti ng Bangsamoro, isang tawag mo lang. Nandito ako para tumugon” (My door and telephone are open to you anytime. If I can be of help in whatever way, especially for the good of the Bangsamoro, just one call from you and I will respond).
Seventy-two took their oath of office last Friday, February 22, in Malacanang – 40 from the 41 nominees of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and 32 of the 39 members nominated by the government. The 41st MILF nominee, Bai Maleiha Candao, was unable to make it
Until June 30, 2019, however, the BTA will be a maximum of 103 because
Mujiv Hataman, the last governor of the 28-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), announced during the turnover of the ARMM to the BARMM on February 26, that he would resign from the BTA as he wants to focus on Basilan where he is running for the lone congressional seat, he vowed to continue to assist the BTA and to Murad, he assured, “Anumang oras, bukas ang pinto at telepono ko para sa iyo. Kung may maitutulong ako, sa kahit anong paraan, lalo na kung para sa ikabubuti ng Bangsamoro, isang tawag mo lang. Nandito ako para tumugon” (Anytime, my doors and phone are open for you. If I can help in whatever way, especially for the good of the Bangsamoro, just one call from you and I will be there).
The names of BTA members were not released prior to the oathtaking and even immediately after. It took Malacanang five days – from the oathtaking on February 22 to February 27 – to release the appointment papers.
When MindaNews asked Galvez immediately after the oathtaking how many took their oath, he replied “76” but MindaNews checked the photographs in three batches and counted 72: 26 in Batch 1, 25 in Batch 2 and 21 in Batch 3.
On February 24, when MindaNews told him only 72 BTA members were able to take their oath based on the photographs with the President and validated by MindaNews with the BTA members themselves, Galvez replied: “based on our latest coordination with OP (Office of the President), we have 76. The remaining (four) will be filled up by OP. Honestly speaking, the 80 is already filled. We are just completing the vetting process and clearance procedures.”
In the afternoon of February 27, Malacanang released the appointment papers of 76 BTA members: 71 of the 72 who took their oath, the 41st MILF nominee who was unable to attend the oathtaking, and four new members. But the appointment paper of Arlene Napoles-Sevilla, a professor and civil society leader in Tawi-tawi, was not released.
Galvez as of 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2 or three days after the appointment papers had been released, had not explained Sevilla’s status, although word reached Sevilla that Galvez said he was responsible for the alleged “mistake,” that Sevilla was among those whose nominations were denied by the Office of the President hours before the oathtaking.
On March 1, Sevilla posted on her Facebook page a request “to the person responsible for the alleged ‘mistake’ committed to have the decency to officially write me directly as when I was requested to submit my notarized PDS (personal data sheet) for my nomination to the BTA, there were personalities who contacted and called me.”
“I am not from a powerful family, not from a political clan, but I have my principle and dignity to protect, that of my children and the basic sectors I have been working with all these years,” she said.
“Hindi po ako nag-apply. Hindi ko po pinangarap na mag-apply dahil alam ko na ang katulad kong maliit na tao na galing sa laylayan ng lipunan ay walang puwang sa mundo ng mga may kapangyarihan, may mga pera at koneksyon” (I did not apply for the post of BTA member. I did not even dream of applying for it because I know that people in the margins like myself have no space in this world of the powerful, the moneyed, and those with connections to the powers that be), Sevilla wrote
It is not clear if the BTA now has a total of 77 members (including Sevilla who took her oath) or only 76 based on the appointment papers dated February 22 but released on February 27.
On March 2, Malacanang released two copies of appointments dated February 27, but these were for posts in the Department of Interior and Local Government and Department of Tourism. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)