Two solons file separate bills to extend Bangsamoro Transition period to 2025

Cotabato City– Representatives Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu of the second district of Maguindanao and Loren Legarda of the lone district of Antique separately filed on Tuesday similar bills to extend the transition period in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) by seeking to reset the first regular election in the region from May 9, 2022 to May 12, 2025, a Mindanews report said Thursday, December 03.

According to the Mindanews report, Legarda filed House Bill (HB) 8116, while Mangudadatu filed HB 8117 on December 1.

House Bill No. 8116 seeks to postpone the first regular election for the Bangsamoro Government to 2025 to allow the 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the body tasked to govern the BARMM during the transition period, to “attend to more urgent needs of the Bangsamoro people, while allowing them to strengthen the foundations for stronger regional government and economy.”

According to Legarda, the postponement will also give “ample time for the full transition of the BARMM to take place, including the effective implementation of the programs and operations of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.”
If BTA tenure is not extended, the first regular election for the Bangsamoro Government “shall be held and synchronized with the 2022 national elections” or on May 9, 2022.

The Mangudadatu and Legarda bills seek to change the year of the first regular election of the Bangsamoro from 2022 to 2025. The May 2025 election is on May 12.

Rep. Mangudadatu, Chair of the Special Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, said that his committee, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)  and the  GRP-BTA Intergovernmental Relations Board (IGRB) “are united that our desired peace and progress in Muslim Mindanao will not be derailed by the lack of time to fully implement what had been agreed upon in the CAB”
(Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro), the peace agreement signed by government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on March 27, 2014.

“Three years are not enough for the BTA and the national government to lay a strong foundation for peace in Mindanao and to establish a responsive and well-functioning Bangsamoro bureaucracy,” Mindanews quoted him saying.

On November 17, the interim Bangsamoro Parliament passed Resolution 93, urging the House of Representatives and the Senate to extend the transition period until June 30, 2025 to give the transition government “sufficient time to continue in performing its powers and functions and fulfill its mandate.”

Galvez told the House Committee that they are aware of the difficulties of the BARMM government in laying the ground for the foundation of the regional government.

He said the political and normalization tracks laid down under RA 11054, the enabling law of the peace agreement, have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 Galvez appealed to the “senses of those opposing the extension,” explaining that due to COVID-19, “the normalization program was stalled for more than two years.”

“If we want the transition to be successful, we need to give our Bangsamoro brothers and sisters ample time to lay the foundation. And realistically, we cannot achieve this in three years,” Galvez said as quoted by Mindanews.

The Mindanao Peoples Caucus, a peace advocacy group that has been accompanying the Bangsamoro peace process since 2002, l

Last month, the Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC) presented to BTA Parliament members the results of its midterm review of the Bangsamoro transition, where extension of the transition period was among the recommendations of those who participated in focus group discussions and key informant interviews.