President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has asked the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) parliament members to work “double time” before their term ends in 2025.
Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. disclosed this on Monday following the oath-taking of 80 new members of the BTA.
“So, President Marcos’ message to our BTA members, including the chief minister, was to work double time if they wanted to get the fundamental laws and legislation done.” Galvez said during the Laging Handa briefing.
“Included are the electoral code, revenue code, local government code, and IP (indigenous peoples) code.” Galvez said.
Galvez said Marcos has also ordered him to help the BTA, adding that achieving peace in Mindanao is “very important” for the President.
“Our beloved President said he is willing to help the BTA members to make their tasks easier.” Galvez said.
Then President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Republic Act No. 11593 in 2021 postponing the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) elections scheduled for this year, thus extending the BTA’s transition period until 2025.
The BTA was tasked with passing crucial laws that would authorize the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) to exercise legislative and executive powers during the region’s transition period.
The composition of the new 80-member BTA was proof that the former warring members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have finally united under one Bangsamoro autonomous government.
“The fact that the unity between the MNLF and MILF happened under the present administration is an indication that President Marcos’ call for unity is being heeded by the former Moro rebel groups,” Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said on Sunday.
The President on Friday administered the oath to the new members of the BTA, the interim government of the BARMM. The government has strived to harmonize the Bangsamoro peace agreements that include the 1976 Tripoli and the 1996 Final Peace Agreements as well as the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
The participation of the MNLF under the leadership of Nur Misuari, according to presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez, is a product of this convergence effort.
Among the new members of the BTA are Abdulkarim Misuari and Nurrheda Misuari, son and daughter of Misuari, respectively.
Misuari and MILF chairman and BTA interim chief minister Murad Ebrahim meeting for the first time in several years in Oct. 2019 during an event at Malacanang to mark the end of September as the month of peace.
“The joining of the MNLF of chair Nur Misuari with the MILF-led BTA is auspicious and heralds a significant step towards unity in the BARMM. It has been a long time since the MNLF and the MILF have split but under the Marcos administration, they are one in pushing for sustainable peace and development in the Bangsamoro,” Galvez said.
“With the joining of the MNLF and the MILF, and with the ‘balanced’ and equitable composition of the 39 government nominees, this is now no longer just the BTA of the old BARMM but the BTA of a ‘United BARMM,’” he added.
Marcos, in his speech, pledged his full support to BARMM as he recognized the important work that the interim government needs to complete in three years, from the enactment of basic laws and fiscal policy to the conduct of elections.
“We are given another chance because of the extension of the Transition Authority. We are given another chance, but we have three years, and three years is not a long time for this rather basic and fundamental and highly important pieces of legislation that have to be produced now by the Transition Authority,” he added.
He underscored the need to complete the work in 2025 as there will no longer be any extensions for the transition body. “In 2025, we will no longer have any extensions to the authority, and we will conduct elections,” Marcos said.
Republic Act No. 11593 reset the first regular elections in BARMM to have it synchronized with the 2025 national elections.