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(SDN) — To extend or not to extend.
That’s the question in the minds of those who make the decision whether to prolong the term of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) — from May 2022 to May 2025.
The BTA headed by Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “Al-Hajj Murad” Ebrahim runs the government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). As a new political entity (NPE) the Bangsamoro region covers and has jurisdiction over the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi; the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan, and Marawi; and 63 villages in North Cotabato that opted to join the Bangsamoro NPE.
Interior Minister Naguib G. Sinarimbo has reported that a meeting of the Council of Leaders was held on June 23, 2021 (Political Leaders’ Meeting on the Extension of the Transition Period in the BARMM).
Another meeting was scheduled today, June 24, in Malacanang on the same topic vital to the Mindanao peace process.
Thus, if the political wind does not change its fickle course, support has come for another three years for the BTA. Perhaps, another point of issue is whether an extension of the BTA to continue the implementation of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) covers prolonging as well the terms of office of the rest of the 80 or so appointed ministers of the BTA and its Parliament.
“We’ve reached a consensus on the extension of the BTA,” the youthful Attorney Sinarimbo said. “This will be reported to the President. We thank the Bangsamoro leaders as well as the Cabinet Secretaries of President (Rodrigo R.) Duterte for facilitating the afternoon’s leaders’ meeting.”
Even without mentioning the obvious, as gleaned from his statement the minister and head of the Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG) perhaps meant the Bangsamoro leaders (the people who make the decision) arrived at a “consensus” to support the BTA’s extension. That’s the only interpretation that is more plausible in Sinarimbo’s statement.
“We are immensely grateful to our people in the homeland who have shown today their own overwhelming support to the extension of the BTA thru their conduct of the unity caravans in parts of the homeland; from Cotabato City, Maguindanao, Cagayan de Oro City, Zamboanga City, the Lanao provinces, Davao City, SArangani, the Zamboanga Peninsula, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi,” the MILG head said.
Over in the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte (not a part of BARMM), Amerol Ariel reported that their Unity Caravan in Ranaw Region for the BTA extension attracted huge participation.
“As per record from the secretariat, there were 6,613 vehicles and motorcycles (a total of 37,432 individuals) participated in the Unity Caravan in Ranaw Region en route to Cagayan de Oro City,” the Maranao leader said.
Here are some photographs from Sinarimbo and Ariel:
Whether the extension being clamored for materializes, the ball is still in the hands of legislators in Congress at the Senate and the House of Representatives.
While some senators have voiced support to extend the BTA, congressmen, however, has yet to make a clear and unified stand.
Suffice to say that one key action will hastened and ensure an extension through the President if and when he certifies as urgent the bill/s seeking the amendment of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the BARMM Charter, particularly the date of a regular election in the Bangsamoro for its first elected set o officers. (/) — (SDN)