KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 30 August) — With only 32 days left to the first day of filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the 2022 national and local elections, civil society organizations across Mindanao on Monday appealed anew to President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent the bills seeking to extend the transition period until 2025 in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) by resetting the date of the first election of the Bangsamoro Parliament from May 2022 to May 2025.
Mary Ann Arnado, secretary general of the peace advocacy group Mindanao People’s Caucus, noted that there have been recent positive developments in the Senate and the House of Representatives regarding the moves to extend the Bangsamoro transition period “that hopefully will finally prompt Duterte to issue the certificate of urgency.” The filing of certificates of candidacy for the synchronized national and local polls is on October 1 to 8.
“There are 32 days left until the filing of the COCs for the 2022 elections. That’s a very short time but so far, we have not seen the law (that will effectively extend the transition period in the BARMM),” she said.
“If we liken the situation to a basketball game, we are in the last two minutes. So we really need to focus because time is very essential,” she added.
Last Wednesday, the Senate approved on second reading Senate Bill 2214 resetting the date of the first election of the 80-member BTA from May 2022 to May 2025.
The following day, Thursday, Arnado said the joint committee in the Lower House (Electoral Reforms, Muslim Affairs, and Peace and Reconciliation) convened and approved the substitute bill also postponing the conduct of the elections in the BARMM from 2022 to 2025.
Arnado is a member of the joint committees’ technical working group.
Forty voted “yes” while only three voted against the move.
“Halos lahat nang nag-attend (almost everyone attended), including the representatives of the Speaker (Lord Allan Velasco) and the deputy speakers. Seemingly, may basbas kasi gumagalaw (it had the blessings [of higher people] that’s why it is moving),” Arnado informed her fellow CSO leaders.
Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan and Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi earlier separately expressed opposition to moves to extend the Bangsamoro transition period.
Arnado said the House joint committee was expected to forward the substitute bill to the plenary this week for deliberations.
According to her, their hopes that Duterte will issue the certificate of urgency remain high with the pronouncement of Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, principal author of RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the BARMM, that the President will certify the bill as urgent.
Zubiri announced in the August 25 session where Senate Bill 2214 was passed on second reading that Executive Secretary Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Senator Christopher Lawrence Go relayed such information to him in a telephone conversation.
“We hope they can deliver it,” Arnado said, noting that CSOs should double their efforts now “that the game is in the last two minutes to ensure that the measure to extend the Bangsamoro transition will win.”
Wahab Guialal, chief of staff of BARMM Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal, said during the online meeting of CSO members the need to keep their guards up until the certificate of urgency is issued for the Bangsamoro transition.
He said Iqbal, the chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the peace talks with the government and chief of the MILF’s Peace Implementing Panel, is hopeful that the transition period in the BARMM will be extended.
The government and the MILF signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in 2014, which paved the way for the creation of the BARMM in 2019 following the ratification of RA 11054.
“Let us continue our campaign and the advocacy until the certificate of urgency is secured from the President. Let us not lower our guard,” Guialal said.
He thanked the grassroots communities for their strong support to the calls to extend the Bangsamoro transition period. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)