Rep. Mangudadatu: MILF to still lead interim Bangsamoro gov’t if transition period is extended

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 / 07 July) – Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu said he wants the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to continue leading the Bangsamoro government if the regional election is postponed, which will effectively extend the transition period in the Bangsamoro region for three more years until 2025.

 

In virtual press conference on Wednesday, Mangudadatu pushed anew the extension of the transition period in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), noting the need for more time to implement the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the BARMM, popularly known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

 

The CAB is the final peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014 after 17 years of negotiations. The BOL created in 2019 the Bangsamoro region, which is the major component of the CAB.

 

The Bangsamoro region is governed by the 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), which is dominated by the MILF with 41 seats. The 39 other seats are nominees of the government.

 

Under the BOL, the term of the BTA will end on June 30, 2022, when the new set of elected officials shall have taken their oaths of office.

 

“The MILF will still take the driver’s seat if the transition period will be extended,” said Mangudadatu, chair of the House of Representative’s Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity.

 

Mangudadatu authored House Bill 8117, which seeks to postpone the BARMM elections in 2022 and if approved, will effectively extend the transition period to 2025.

 

Four other similar House bills were filed by Majority Floor Leader Martin Romualdez and Deputy Speakers Loren Legarda and Isidro Ungab, and Lanao del Norte Rep. Khalid Dimaporo.

 

The House Joint Committees have yet to come up with a recommendation while their counterparts at the Senate reportedly favor the postponement of the BARMM elections and the extension of the transition period.

 

Mangudadatu, former three-term governor of Maguindanao, said the House Joint Committee will resume deliberations on the proposals to cancel the BARMM elections on Monday, 12 July.

 

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier expressed support for the extension of the transition period in the BARMM. Recently, however, Duterte told Congress to decide on the matter.

 

In March, at least one million signatures were submitted to Malacañang urging Duterte to certify as priority legislative measures the proposals to extend the transition period in the Bangsamoro region.

 

So far, the President did not act on the petition.

 

Mangudadatu said that if the elections in the BARMM will be postponed, only the votes for the parliamentary positions will be affected.

 

The elections for provincial and municipal officials will proceed, he said.

 

Mangudadatu said the COVID-19 pandemic also affected the performance of the BTA, hence the need to extend the transition period for three more years to 2025.

 

Of the six priority legislations that the BTA are mandated to formulate under the BOL, the Bangsamoro parliament approved the Civil Service Code, Administrative Code and Education Code.

 

The three other priority legislations they need to hammer are the electoral, local government and revenue codes.

 

Mangudadatu said the electoral code is crucial in defining the parliamentary districts and the seats to be filled up in the Bangsamoro region.

 

“That is of utmost importance because the question on districting BARMM’s constituent LGUs (local government units) and setting up their representation in the BARMM parliament must be clearly outlined,” he added.

 

Mangudadatu urged his colleagues to approve the extension of the transition period in the BARMM, citing “strong public clamor” and the need to sustain the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process.

 

“I pray that we are not to forget that we are dealing with a peace process. The BARMM is a lasting legacy of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s administration to the Bangsamoro people,” he said. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)

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