Cotabato City — Officials of the new autonomous regional government are seeking a term extension on the three-year transitional governing body, saying this was distinct from the office tenure of its presidential appointee-Parliament members.
Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, spokesperson of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), explained over the weekend that extending the lifespan of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) is being acted on in Congress, separately from the presidential appointments of 80 BTA Parliament members.
As this developed, Maguindanao Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu said he has filed House Bill 8117 to amend Republic Act 11054, the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which sets the election of BARMM officials three years after its ratification in February 2019.
Sinarimbo, also BARMM Minister of the Interior and Local Governments, said President Rodrigo Duterte saw the extension proposal being essentially reasonable and necessary, when presented by Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Al-Hadj Murad Ebrahim during their meeting last week.
He said it is the three-year transition period that is sought to be “extended” and not an election day, fixed by regular laws, that is being “postponed” in this case.
BTA is BARMM’s interim governing body during its first three years of developing and establishing an autonomous bureaucracy, concurrently with the national government in the framework of “intergovernmental relations (IGR) bodies,” Sinarimbo said.
The Mindanao People’s Caucus (MPC), a forum of peace advocates’ groups, has said the three-year transition should not be reckoned from 2019 when BARMM started operating, albeit on funds and programs drafted and partly implemented by its forerunner, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), prior to the ratification of RA 11054.
Following the MPC assessment of BOL provisions with the time-bound implementation period, the BARMM would have been just two years and three months old by the May 2022 national elections.
Both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front had nominated representatives to the Interim BTA Parliament, and their nominees were appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte, mostly in February 2019.
But Sinarimbo said critics of the extension proposal tend to lump up separate issues of the exclusive powers of Congress to amend RA 11054 and the Executive mandates on appointments.
He said in the case of then-ARMM Governor Nur Misuari, he was elected in 1996. Congress granted the resetting of the ARMM election from 1999 to 2001, due to the shaky peace situation then owing to offensives on Camp Abubakar by the administration of President Joseph Estrada.
In postponing the elections in 2001, Congress also granted Misuari and his fellow elected officials the inherent holdover powers in office.