BARMM Hierarchy Has No Plans to Seek Second Extension of Bangsamoro Transition Government

“What we can say is that there is no call for another extension because as much as possible we want to get the mandate of the people through the ballot.”

— BIO Executive Director Ameen Andrew Alonto says

BARMM Chief Minister Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim on October 19, 2023, for an official engagement at Dusit Thani Hotel, Davao City. (Photo: SDN – SciTech & Digital News) 

  • EDD K. USMAN / Twitter: @edd1918 / Instagram: @bluestar0910 / Facebook: SDN – SciTech and Digital News

DAVAO CITY, October 20, 2023 (SDN) — The May 2025 regional election marks the first time the 80 Members of Parliament (MPs) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) go through a gauntlet of votes as the pioneer elective officials of the region.

From the establishment of the Bangsamoro region in early 2019 the regional government is being governed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chaired by Ahod Balawag “Al-Hajj Murad” Ebrahim through the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA). Ebrahim is Interim Chief Minister of the BARMM until a new Chief Minister shall have been chosen by the MPs. That’s after the senatorial and local elections two years from now.

This is because at that time in 2025, barring any unforeseen hitch, the first regional political exercise in the region, comprised of six provinces, three cities, and 63 barangays or villages of the Special Geographic Area (SGA) in North Cotabato but under the jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro government owing to a plebiscite in February 2019.

According to the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement (CAB) between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF and fleshed out by the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the unique Bangsamoro Parliament as is operating now is composed of 41 MPs from the MILF and 39 endorsed by GPH through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU).

President Ferdinand R. Marcos,  Jr., signed the appointments of Ebrahim as Chief Minister and the current crop of MPs.

By June 30, 2025, if the political happening in the autonomous region runs its lawfully pre-determined course, the Parliament shall have its first duly elected regular MPs, who will then choose the BARMM Chief Minister. There will be no need for the National Government to approve their appointments.

Recall that the then President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved and signed Republic Act No. 11593 in October 2021 that extended the Bangsamoro transition government from June 2022 to May 2025.

Would there be a clamor for another three-year extension?

No such thing as made clear through Bangsamoro Information Office (BARMM-BIO) Executive Director Ameen Andrew Alonto. He made this clarification during the First Bangsamoro Information and Media Summit here at the SMX Convention Center (from October 18 to 20), SM Lanang Premier, Davao City.

BARMM chief of Information Executive Director Ameen Andrew Alonto. (Photo: SDN — SciTech & Digital News)

He took the microphone after a lively discussion of the Bangsamoro Electoral Code (BEC) which the Parliament passed on March 8 this year and the Chief Minister signed without delay.

Wait for decision of Supreme Court on petition versus BEC

The BEC, or the Bangsamoro Autonomous Act No. 35 was designed by the Parliament to serve as the region’s “legal framework concerning the structural, functional, and procedural principles of elections, plebiscites, referenda, and recall proceedings” as well as aiming “to ensure honest, credible, just, and free elections”.

Not that fast, as observers would say.

On June 14, some of the region’s local officials and other stakeholders filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the regional electoral code.

That’s another layer of questions that generated a spirited exchange when the code was presented and explained to more than 100 BARMM government information officers and some journalists covering the region, including one based in Manila.

The discussion came at the BIO summit.

As the questions went on and on, Alonto took the microphone and explained some points of contention to clear the air.

“There are questions, knowing that we have this Bangsamoro Electoral Code which the Bangsamoro Parliament passed. It’s unfortunate that there’s this constitutional question that’s pending in the Supreme Court,” the BIO chief points out.

Alonto acknowledged the reality of these questions hanging around. “So, now, is the law (BEC) in effect? The answer to that today is ‘Yes’ because the Supreme Court has not yet come out with a decision (on the petition).”

He said that when 2025 arrives and the High Tribunal has not made a decision yet, “Of course, it only means the law is effective and we will implement it and we’ll hold an election”.

BIO chief tells Bangsamoro people to not believe on speculations

But then, Alonto added, what if the Bangsamoro code on elections is declared unconstitutional before the 2025 election, “are we going to have a (regional) election?”

“Of course, my answer to that is ‘No’. In fact, that is one of the grounds in 2022 why the (term of the) Bangsamoro Transition Authority was extended because there was no law that will govern our parliamentary election.”

He adds: “Are we saying that the same scenario will be repeated in case the BEC is (declared) unconstitutional, we are not saying that. As far as the Government of the Day is concerned, under the leadership of Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, there is no call for another extension.”

What if a clamor for a second extension comes up?

“This is what we call, we will ‘cross the bridge when we get there.’ We cannot answer that today. What we can say is that there is no call for another extension because as much as possible we want to get the mandate of the people through the ballot.”

Alonto sent a message to the Bangsamoro constituents he relayed in an interview with SDN — SciTech and Digital News.

Wait for the Supreme Court’s decision, he appealed.

“Don’t believe in speculations. Don’t believe either if there are news reports that say the Government of the Day is pushing another extension. There’s no truth to that. The leadership has nothing to do with any call for extension.”

“Let us wait and see what the decision of the Supreme Court turns out to be. Be assured that whatever would be the decision we will abide by it.”

Comprising the BARMM are the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi; the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan, and Marawi; and the SGA. (✓)


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