The inauguration of the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority—and its first Session as a parliament—has been postponed several times to make sure that President Rodrigo Duterte will be able to attend the event.
BTA officials and members had already taken their oaths last month.
According to Interim Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim, they had postponed the inauguration date from March 25 to 29 to accommodate the President.
Sources said that even before the March 25 date, there had been an agreement among BTA members for the inauguration to take place on March 21, but the date was moved to March 25 because Duterte could not make it on the 21st because of his many activities.(that day, he had 3 events in Metro Manila).
Actually, the first tentative date was set March 11 or some 2 weeks after BTA members took their oath on Feb. 22, but the date was eventually moved to March 18, according to sources.
Some Bangsamoro advocates have said, however, that the inauguration and first session should take place with or without Duterte, as a way to show the BTA’s independence.
They said that delaying the two ceremonies would also delay the BTA from accomplishing its tasks such as passing administrative and local government codes and formulating a transition plan.
Murad acknowledged this sentiment but said it is worth waiting for Duterte to attend the event. “True, but the attendance of the President will also send strong signal for his support to BARMM [Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao],” he said.
Murad is also counting on Duterte’s support to ensure no hiccups in the passage of BARMM’s budget and block grant next year.
The Bangsamoro Parliament resulted from a successful plebiscite held in January this year where Cotabato City and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao ratified the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
The BARMM will now replace ARMM, one of the key demands of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in its peace agreement with the previous Aquino administration.
In its first session, the Bangsamoro Parliament is expected to finalize its house rules and rules of procedure, necessary for it to begin formal deliberations on critical laws.
The inauguration, meanwhile, will likely include the presentation by the MILF of the names of its 12,000 troops to be decommissioned as part of its deal with the government.