BTA backs transition extension to properly implement agreements

COTABATO CITY – Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) adopted Tuesday, November 17, proposed Resolution No. 332 urging the House of Representatives and the Senate of the Philippines to extend the Bangsamoro transition period from year 2022 to 2025.
Member of the Parliament (MP) Jose Lorena, one of the principal authors of the resolution, said this is to provide the BTA with sufficient time to continue in performing its powers and functions, and complete its mandate.

Lorena also said that his basis for passing the resolution is Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim’s position that he is in favor of extending the transition period. “I stand by our chief minister, when he declared that in the normalization, there are much to be sought off,” he said.
Lorena was referring to Ebrahim’s podcast interview with journalist Christian Esguerra on November 13, 2020. In the interview, Ebrahim said he supports the recommendation of the Mindanao Peoples’ Caucus (MPC) on extending the transition period for another three years.
MPC, a peace advocacy group, has conducted a rapid midterm review on the Bangsamoro transition period through record reviews, key informant interviews, and focused group discussion with various stakeholders.

“Ang challenge kasi dito is we have two tracks in the peace process – the governance track and the normalization track,” CM Ebrahim said.
“The first track will be the governance aspect, ito na yung pagpapatayo ng Bangsamoro, pag-organize ng BARMM. There is that other track na more comprehensive, itong normalization track,” he said.

“Sa normalization, dyan yung decommissioning ng BIAF (Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces), dismantling of private armies, pagpapatayo ng police force for the region. Nandyan yung rehabilitation ng combatants after they are decommissioned, pati yung amnesty. Maraming naka tie-up dun sa normalization,” he added.

“Sa tingin namin talagang kapag nagkaroon ng election (sa 2022 sa BARMM), ang mangyari ma-sideline na yung normalization at hindi ma-implement. Yun ang magiging problema natin,” Ebrahim explained.

According to Ebrahim, the initially decommissioned 12,000 BIAF combatants are yet to receive the P1-million each economic package the national government has promised in exchange for them returning to civilian life.

“Hanggang ngayon ay di pa naibibigay. So ‘yun ang challenge, paano i-convince yun mga susunod na combatants. Sasabihin nila ‘wala namang nagyari dun sa nauna, bakit mag-decommission pa tayo?’” he said, noting that the MILF has target 40,000 combatants for decommissioning.
“So sana matapos yung term ng transition, ma-implement na rin lahat nung sa normalization process para mag-coincide […] Kailangan i-push namin na before the election talagang yung normalization track ay ma complete natin,” Ebrahim said.

Also cited in Resolution No. 332 are the calls to extend the transition period from the League of Municipalities of the Philippines’ (LMP) chapter in Tawi-Tawi, Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Tawi-Tawi, and Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Maguindanao.

Lorena emphasized that in his resolution, he is asking for the extension of the transition period and not his extension as a parliament member. This was backed by MP Mohagher Iqbal.

“I beg to disagree, yung ibang mga observation, that this is self-serving for our part. Because first of all hindi naman natin alam na tomorrow, next year or any other day (maaring) wala na tayo. This is for our people,” Iqbal stressed.

“Just imagine, 17 long years of negotiation, can we implement what has been in the law for just 3 years?” Iqbal said, noting that three-year transition is too short, and that the MILF was originally pushing for a six-year transition.

“Pag hindi ho tayo ma-extend, hilaw po ang implementation ng normalization process,” he said.

“Of course this is not a blaming game. Hindi natin bine-blame ang gobyerno, neither are we blaming the MILF. Because we are already partners, not just in the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law but even in the implementation of the agreement between the government and the MILF,” he emphasized.

“Nararapat lang po na itong resolution na ito ipasa natin not as a self-serving exercise but it is for our people. It is part of our assertion na kailangan talaga kung anong naumpisahan natin dapat po matapos nating mabuti,” Iqbal said