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COTABATO CITY –President Rodrigo R. Duterte, unless he changes his mind, has left to Congress the decision to extend the transition phase of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA). The BTA governs the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) until May 2022, if not extended.
The extension is loud clamor in Mindanao among BARMM officials led by Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “Al-Hajj Murad” Ebrahim, including the Bangsamoro Parliament, as well as civil society organizations and local government executives.
The President had made his position clear during a meeting of Mindanao leaders in Malacanang last week, though he was supportive of the extension as he voiced in the past. Has the President stopped being supportive of the proposed BTA extension until May 2025?
In any case, Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, chief of the Department of National Defense (DND), as reported by BARMM Media Office, has made it clear he (Lorenzana) remains supportive.
“I will support all efforts and initiatives for the welfare and well-being of the people of the BARMM.”
— Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana
In a pre-State-of-the-Nation (SONA) activity on Tuesday, June 29, Lorenzana reiterated that the extension would provide the Bangsamoro region enough time to make a genuine and successful transition.
“I will support all efforts and initiatives for the welfare and well-being of the people of the BARMM,” Lorenza said, noting that the DND and the national government are committed to working with the Bangsamoro administration.
The Bangsamoro officials said that the three-year transition period from 2019 to 2022 would not be enough to accomplish its targets.
BTA’s various priorities up for completion
Ebrahim, chieftain of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said the President’s promise of peace was fulfilled in 2019, resulting in the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the BARMM Organic Law.
“Above all, the Duterte administration is unprecedented and relentless in putting the Bangsamoro cause in the national platform allowing the Filipino nation to grasp the history of our struggle and the need to give Mindanao the peace it truly deserves,” Ebrahim noted.
The transition authority, he said, is “true to the dream of the President that there can be a special Bangsamoro nation in the Philippine Republic.”
As stated in the BOL, the BTA, which serves as the interim government of the BARMM during the transition period, will ensure the completion of the following priorities:
Enactment of priority legislations such as the Administrative Code, Revenue Code, Electoral Code, Local Government Code, Educational Code, and Civil Service Code;
Determination of parliamentary districts for the first regular election for the members of the Parliament;
Organization of the bureaucracy of the Bangsamoro Government during the transition, including the approval and implementation of a transition plan and the institution of a placement process for the hiring of personnel during the transition;
Full transfer of powers and properties of the Autonomous Regional Government in Muslim Mindanao to the Bangsamoro Government;
The disposition of the personnel of the Autonomous Regional Government in Muslim Mindanao ;
Transition from the Autonomous Regional Government in Muslim Mindanao to the Bangsamoro Government, as provided in the Organic Law; and
Other matters that may be necessary for the protection and promotion of the general welfare of the constituents of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
The BTA enacted three important legislation — Administrative Code, Civil Service Code and Education Code.
BTA Speaker Atty. Pangalian Balindong said that they are working hard to complete the transition and guarantee that the next administration has everything it needs to push progress further in the region.
He said that the Parliament would discuss the remaining priority codes such as local government, electoral, and revenue on its third regular session.
To date, there are about 125 bills and 474 resolutions filed in the plenary. Out of the 474 proposed resolutions, 145 were approved by the Parliament.
Minister Sinarimbo cites BARMM government’s significant progress
As he presented the updates on regional development and security, Minister Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo, head of the BARMM’s Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG), said that the Bangsamoro government had made significant progress in building a stronger autonomous region while delivering major programs to its constituents.
He said this includes establishing the bureaucracy in BARMM and crafting the roadmap anchored to the region’s 12-point priority agenda.
In his presentation, Sinarimbo noted that the regional government had constructed 250 barangay halls, 11 municipal halls, four municipal police stations, and nine water systems across the region’s five provinces.
By the end of the year, he said, the government will complete the construction and improvement of 1,073 kilometers of roads, 114 bridges, 201 flood control, 385 water systems, 94 seaports, and 16 other infrastructure projects.
“Next to the President, I am the happiest person working for the success of the Bangsamoro,” Lorenza said.
He said they will return here in the coming days to discuss the Bangsamoro peace process’ normalization track, particularly interventions aimed at improving the lives of decommissioned MILF combatants, their families, and other members of their communities.
“We have to work on the normalization efforts. We have to expedite the radicalization, decommissioning, rehabilitation and development interventions for former combatants and conflict-affected communities in the region,” the Defense chief added.
The normalization track has four components: security, socio-economic development, confidence-building measures, and transitional justice and reconciliation.
Lorenza also commended the Bangsamoro government for its commitment to improving the lives of its constituents and securing the future of the region.
“Patuloy sana kayong maging ehemplo ng integridad, malasakit at pagkakaisa sa inyong nasasakupan,” he said. (Hopefully you will continue as example of integrity, compassion, unity among constituents.)
“Let us be more inclusive in what we are doing. Wala kayong iiwanan (You won’t leave anyone behind), including everybody,” he added. (BARMM Publication and Media Relations Division) — (/)