KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 05 March) — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation of the Security, Justice and Peace Cabinet Cluster (SJPCC) to maintain the status quo on the membership of the 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).
In a joint statement on Friday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity and National Security, and Secretary Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. of the National Security Council announced that Duterte approved their recommendation last February 21.
The SJPCC made the recommendation as only three months remain before the next President takes over the reins of government on June 30, 2022.
The remaining there-mont period, the joint statement, said, “will provide the incumbent members of the BTA the time to complete their crucial tasks.”
Moreover, maintaining the status quo in the BTA will enable the incumbent President to focus on ensuring that the key aspects of the transition process in the Bangsamoro, such as building the capacity of the BTA parliament and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Cabinet for good and accountable moral governance, are effectively carried out, it added.
The BARMM was created in January 2019 following the plebiscite that ratified Republic 11054 or the Organic Law for the BARMM. The following month, Duterte named the members of the BTA, led by Ahod Ebrahim, popularly known as Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The creation of the Bangsamoro region is the major component of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the final peace agreement signed by the government and the MILF in 2014 after 17 years of negotiations.
In a resolution passed in October 2021, the BTA requested Duterte to allow the incumbent BTA members to continue carrying out their mandate in order to preserve the gains achieved under the body’s various programs, projects and legislative measures.
In the same resolution, the BTA emphasized that their appeal to the President to keep the status quo is being made “in view of the diverse ethnic-cultural and professional background of the body’s membership; their policy advocacies and accomplishments; and the extensive trainings on governance they have received from academic and other development institutions.”
The BTA likewise issued a resolution last month appealing to Duterte to give primary consideration to the re-appointment of BTA members who are nominated by the national government, “as this will ensure a smooth transition process without the possibility of any political disruptions taking place.”
The President also approved the 41 MILF nominees for the BTA as submitted by Ebrahim.
Although the SJPCC recommended maintaining the status quo in the BTA, it must be noted that the President has the authority to replace those members who may be elected into office during the 2022 national elections, the joint statement said.
The status quo in the BTA will be done in the exigency of public service, it added.
“Undoubtedly, the BTA has over the past two years played an instrumental role in uplifting the lives of the Bangsamoro people and unleashing the economic potential of the region. Given these major accomplishments, its current membership must not only be given due recognition, but must also be given the chance to complete what it has started,” the SJPCC members said.
“By keeping the status quo in the BTA, we are not only building on and sustaining the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process; we are laying the foundations where genuine development and long-lasting peace can take root and flourish, and where our Moro brothers and sisters can look ahead to a better and brighter future,” they added. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)