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“We are now (preparing to submit) the Online Petition (to Malacañang). We will submit it anytime this week.”
— Atty. Mary Ann Arnado, Mindanao People’s Caucus (MPC)
By EDD K. USMAN
(SDN) — Salimah Dilunugun, a native of Marawi City, just made a bit of history in the Bangsamoro region.
She is the one millionth signatory to the online petition for the extension of the three-year term of the transition phase of the Bangsamoro government.
Of course, the million signatures could not have been achieved without the first person to sign the online petition for President Rodrigo R. Duterte to certify the bills in Congress as “urgent.” The bills seek another three years for the terms of the officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) created in 2019.
Lawyer Mary Ann Arnado of the Mindanao People’s Caucus (MPC) told SDN — Science & Digital News said Dilunugun completed the target one million signatures, while an Indanan resident of Sulu — Al-Hakim Octavio — was the first to sign the petition.
She lauded the reception for the petition, adding the online petition will continue to gather signatures until the President responds.
“The support is overwhelming. It only shows that Moro people, particularly civil society organizations, have improved so much and have become adept in social media and digital technology which radically increased their voice and number exponentially,” Arnado said.
At the same time, she noted how the Moro masses are pinning their hopes for the improvement of their lives on the Bangsamoro government.
“But this could not have been achieved without the solid organizing at the ground level. Ordinary people are pinning their hopes for the future in the BARMM. There is so much eagerness, especially among the young people for the BARMM to succeed,” she added.
Arnado said where poor connectivity made it difficult to sign online, signature gathering was held in communities.
Officially the petition on cyberspace launched on February 10, 2021 is titled “A petition humbly requesting President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to certify as urgent Senate Bills 2019/2025 and House Bills 8116/8117/8161/8277 that seek to amend section 13 article XVI of Republic act 11054, otherwise known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law, for the extension of the transition period and setting the first regular election of the Bangsamoro government to may 2025.”
In fact, supporters of the political action has even surpassed the target number by 78,795 as of 5:03 p.m., today, March 14, 2021.
Related: Over .62-Million People Ask Duterte via Online Petition to Certify BARMM Extension Bill as Urgent
Organizers of the petition are now preparing to submit the petition to Malacng for the President’s requested action.
“We are now (preparing to submit) the online Petition. We will submit it anytime this week,” revealed the Mindanao civil society organization (CSO) stalwart and leader.
The CSO Movement for Moral Governance and the MPC jointly launched the petition after the latter’s rapid assessment of the three-year transition period after which the MPC recommended the extension as there’s not enough time to implement all the agenda of the parliamentary Bangsamoro regional government.
Interim Chief Minister Ahod B. “Al-Hajj Murad” Ebrahim heads the Bangsamoro government through the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA). The President appointed Ebrahim along with the 78 the BARMM officials only last year.
Various individuals and organizations in Southern Philippines support the request for transition, with the common theme that there’s not enough time, they said, for the three years of transition made more difficult by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic that emerged in December 2019.
Of the prominent names among the supporters include Catholic leader Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, North Cotabato Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, opposition Senator Ria Hontiveros, Gov. Nancy Cotamco, Sulu Rep. Munir Arbison, Maguindanao Rep. Esmail “Toto” Mangudadatu, and many others.
“Elections in 2022 would simply erode whatever fragile gains the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority shall have obtained within the transition period,” Cardinal Quevedo, the archbishop emeritus of Cotabato, pointed out in a statement released to media.
BARMM Parliament Deputy Minority Leader and Vice Chair of of the Committee on Public Order and Safety Suharto Ambolodto said the BTA’s agenda for the three-year transition phase cover the implementation of the transition plan, the 12-point Chief Minister’s Agenda, and the Bangsamoro Regional Development Plan (BRDP).
The BARMM leadership celebrated the regional government’s second anniversary on January 21, 2021. If granted, another three-year period of the BTA will run until 2025. (/)