By EDD K. USMAN | Twitter: @edd1819 | Instagram: @bluestar0910 | Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital and Current Affairs
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MANILA (SDN) — Members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) are scheduled to take their oath of office today, Friday, in Malacañang Palace, sources told SDN — Science and Digital News.
As is the norm in the last three years, the President now Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., is expected to swear into office the BTA members, some of them for reappointment, still others are new ones, especially from the government list of nominees.
The BTA, the interim body that governs the parliamentary Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), has 80 members; 41 of them are nominees of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chaired by Ahod Balawag “Al-Hajj Murad” Ebrahim, 39 are nominees of the national government through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU).
As an interim body, the BTA’s term was supposed to lapse on June 30, 2022, when its first regularly elected members would have been elected. However, on appeals of the BTA and the BARMM leadership led by Interim Chief Minister Ebrahim, as well as calls from various Mindanao-based civil society organizations (CSOs), and some prominent Mindanao leaders from both Christian and Muslim communities, the then President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed and approved Republic Act No. 11593, the law that extended the BTA’s life to until June 30, 2025.
This means then that when that time comes and unless again extended and the first BARMM election deferred as a consequence, the region shall be governed by the first regularly elected officials of the Bangsamoro Parliament comprised of 80 members. Aside from the chief minister, there will also be two deputy chief ministers of the BARMM.
One of the SDN sources provided a list of the 41 MILF nominees to the BTA, but on condition the list will not be revealed until after the oathtaking.
The Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) created the BARMM as a new political entity (NPE) to implement the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace treaty the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF signed after 17 years of protracted negotiations often-derailed by fighting.
The Bangsamoro region is made up of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, and the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan, and Marawi, as well as the Special Geographic Area (SGA) made up of 63 barangays or villages in North Cotabato that opted to be under BARMM jurisdiction during two plebiscites in January and February 2019.
The BARMM per Philippine Atlas has five provinces, three cities, 116 municipalities, and the SGA villages. Its population as of 2020 is pegged at 4,404,288. Basilan has 11 municipalities; Lanao del Sur, 39; Maguindanao, 36; Sulu, 19; and Tawi-Tawi, 11. Its component cities are Cotabato (the regional center and capital) in Maguindanao; Lamitan in Basilan; and Marawi in Lanao del Sur.
Both Executive and Legislative powers and functions are embedded in the BTA, with the Chief Minister exercising powers of the Executive while the Parliament has jurisdiction over the Legislative functions.
The BTA exercises and implements the transition from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), now defunct, to the NPE or the BARMM.
On the other hand, the interim Parliament, led in its first three years term by Lanao del Sur’s Speaker Ali Pangalian Balindong, was tasked, among others, to complete legislations of six priority Bangsamoro measures, such as Bangsamoro Administrative Code, Bangsamoro Revenue Code, Bangsamoro Electoral Code, Bangsamoro Local Government Code, and Bangsamoro Education Code within the term of the transition period.
The BTA, expected to be led again by Chief Minister Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim, was also tasked to complete the establishment of the BARMM’s governmental structures by 2025.
Some of the Parliament members are also to be named to head some of the 15 primary line agencies of the Bangsamoro government, while others are non-Parliament members. (✓)
Featured image is the Bangsamoro seat of Government in Cotabato City, credit to BARMM website through Philippine Star.
This story will be updated as more information on the BTA members’ oathtaking come in.