‘Council of Leaders’ backs BARMM transition extension

Even children join the throngs of people in the streets of Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao Wednesday (23 June 2021) welcoming the caravan pushing for the extension of the transition period in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). MindaNews photo by FERDINANDH CABRERA

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 24 June) – The “Council of Leaders” has reached a consensus to extend the transition period in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), officials confirmed Thursday.

“We’ve reached a consensus on the extension of the BTA (Bangsamoro Transition Authority). This will be reported to the President (Rodrigo Duterte),” lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, Bangsamoro government spokesperson, disclosed.

The “Meeting of the Council of Leaders and Political Leaders Meeting on the Extension of the Transition Period in the BARMM” was conducted Wednesday at the Grand Hyatt Manila, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City on Wednesday.

Sinarimbo, also the Minister of the Interior and Local Government, thanked the Bangsamoro leaders and Duterte’s Cabinet secretaries for facilitating the leaders’ meeting.

Hours before the leaders’ meeting, a huge caravan was mobilized to dramatize the call to extend the transition period in the BARMM. At least 13,000 vehicles joined the caravan, which rolled out from Cotabato City, the seat of the Bamngsamoro government, and traversed the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

Duterte earlier met with Congress leaders, Cabinet secretaries, Bangsamoro government officials headed by Interim Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim and political leaders in the region to discuss the postponement of the BARMM elections and the extension of the transition period from 2022 to 2025.

Since no consensus had been reached during the June 16 meeting in Malacañang, Duterte instructed them to meet as Council of Leaders to resolve the issue.

Duterte scheduled a “final meeting” with the Council of Leaders today, June 24, for the way forward on the moves to extend the transition period in the Bangsamoro region.

Five bills have been filed in the House of Representatives while two bills were filed in the Senate seeking the amendment of Republic Act 11054 (Organic Law for the BARMM) for the extension of the transition period in the Bangsamoro from 2022 to 2025.

Congress, however, failed to pass the measure before they adjourned sine die on June 4.

In March, one million signatures were submitted to the Office of the President petitioning Duterte to certify as urgent the measures seeking the extension of the BTA, the interim body mandated to govern the Bangsamoro government until June 30, 2022.

Duterte has yet to act on their petition.

The peace advocacy group Mindanao People’s Caucus (MPC) recommended the extension of the transition period after conducting the Rapid Midterm Review on the Bangsamoro Transition Period from August-September 2020.

Lawyer Mary Ann Arnado, MPC secretary general, separately confirmed that the Council of Leaders acted in favor of the extension of the transition period.

“They have reached a consensus to recommend the extension to the President,” she told MindaNews.

Citing informants, Arnado said that Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan consistently opposed the extension but the majority overwhelmed him.

Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, who also opposed the extension, and Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman of Basilan, who sought a review of the Bangsamoro transition first before talks of extension, were no-shows during the meeting, she added.

The governors of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Tawi-tawi earlier backed the extension of the transition period in the Bangsamoro region. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)