Senate Bill No. 1874, while seeking to synchronize the first regional election with the National Election in 2028 also extends further to the end of the year the transition period of the BARMM.
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(SDN) — Senator Raffy Tulfo wants the life of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) extended for the second time, and its first regional election to be synchronized with the national political exercise in May 2028.
The first-time solon introduced Senate Bill No. 1874 on February 13, 2023, titled “AN ACT AMENDING SECTION 13, ARTICLE XVI OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 11054, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE ORGANIC LAW FOR THE BANGSAMORO AUTONOMOUS REGION IN MUSLIM MINDANAO, AS AMENDED BY REPUBLIC ACT NO. 11593, FOR THE PURPOSE OF EXTENDING THE TRANSITION PERIOD TO ENSURE THE SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ANNEX ON NORMALIZATION UNDER THE FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT ON THE BANGSAMORO (FAB), AND ALLOWING THE FIRST REGULAR ELECTION FOR THE BANGSAMORO PARLIAMENT TO BE SYNCHRONIZED WITH THE 2028 NATIONAL ELECTIONS”.
He cited the significance of S.B. No. 1874 in its Explanatory Note, saying it’s “in line with the Philippine government’s commitment to the peace process in the southern Philippines and the advancement of the Bangsamoro people’s rights and interests”.
Recall that the BTA which is running the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was for a three-year transition period headed by MILF Chair Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim, the Bangsamoro interim Chief Minister, from 2019 to 2022.
But the onslaught of the pandemic in December 2019 substantially curtailed operation of government, business, and school because of long drawn lockdowns and quarantines.
This prompted the leadership of the BARMM, supported by various quarters, one of them the Mindanao People’s Caucus (MPC), to ask Congress for a three-year extension, which was then granted through May 2025. One of the many reasons cited was to complete the tasks of the BTA to put in place many governmental programs and projects for its constituents and in restructuring the Bangsamoro government.
A second extension of the transition period may also depend on a petition in the Supreme Court filed by a group of BARMM local government officials and other stakeholders, seeking to declare the newly passed Bangsamoro Electoral Code (BEC) unconstitutional.
On the other hand, in an interview with the lead of the Bangsamoro Information Office (BIO) Executive Director Ameen Andrew Alonto, he said the leadership of the BARMM has no plans seeking a second extension of their terms of office. Meaning regional election would push through on May 12, 2025.
He made the statement during the 1st Bangsamoro Information and Media Summit held in Davao City on October 19-20.
But he indicated one possibility the first regional elections in 2025 may not push through if the Supreme Court declares the BARMM electoral code unconstitutional because there would be no law to govern the political exercise.
This was a reason for the re-setting of the 2022 regional election, he pointed out.
Here’s what he said in the interview with SDN – SciTech and Digital News:
“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.”
In Tulfo’s bill’s Explanatory Note, he said S.B. No. 1874 is aimed at extending the Transition Period of the (BARMM) as established by Republic Act No. 11054, also known as the Organic Law for the (BARMM), as amended by Republic Act No. 11593″.
Another goal of the senator’s bill regards ensuring the successful implementation of the Annex on Normalization under the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), and to allow the first regular election for the Bangsamoro Parliament to be synchronized with the 2028 National Elections”.
The bill’s Explanatory Note said the act will amend Section 13, Article XVI of Republic Act No. 11054, as amended by Republic Act No. 11593, to extend the Transition Period until the end of the year 2028″.
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 63 barangays or villages belonging to the Special Geographic Area (SGA) in North Cotabato but under the jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro government. (✓)