This undated photo shows the Bangsamoro government center in Cotabato City. John Unson, File

COVID-19 pandemic stifles passage of BARMM laws

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Three new regional laws are out, two of which are now being used as a reference in the setting up of the infant Bangsamoro government’s pioneering personnel structure. Members of the 80-seat Bangsamoro Transition Authority, known as the interim regional parliament, said Thursday they could have drafted and approved more regional laws if not for the COVID-19 pandemic that stifled their operation.

The Bangsamoro government’s spokesperson, lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, said Thursday they are thankful to the BTA for having passed the Administrative, the Civil Service and the Education Codes that are essential to regional governance.

Sinarimbo, regional government minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said there are still other draft regional codes being studied now by BARMM’s parliament, led by Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim.

Ebrahim is the chairman of the central committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front whose two decades of peace talks with Malacañang resulted in the creation in 2019 of BARMM that replaced then the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Sinarimbo said the enactment into law of the Administrative, the Civil Service and the Education Codes disproved insinuations by skeptics and pessimists that the BARMM parliament has no sensible legislative agenda.
“These are regional edicts formulated via extensive consultation with the local communities, based on the peculiar socio-economic and geographical settings of BARMM, attuned to the region’s charter, the Republic Act 11054,” Sinarimbo said.

The RA 11054 is also known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law that voters in the core territory of BARMM ratified via a plebiscite in January 2019.

Sinarimbo said the COVID-19 pandemic has seriously affected the supposedly continuing effort of the 80-member regional parliament to pass more regional laws needed for the now 26-month BARMM to fully take off.
Among the draft BARMM laws still being deliberated on by the regional parliament are the proposed local government, election and internal revenue codes.