Philippine Senate passes bill on third and final reading extending Bangsamoro transition to 2025

Cotabato City- A caravan pushing the extension of the transition period in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). MindaNews file photo by FERDINANDH CABRERA
Voting 15-3-1, the Senate approved Monday, on third and final reading Senate Bill 2214 or “An Act Resetting the First Regular Elections in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Amending, for the Purpose, Section 13, Article XVI of Republic Act 11054, Otherwise Known as the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” a Mindanews report said Monday.

According to report, the 15 senators who voted “yes” are Sonny Angara, Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay, Pia Cayetano, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Win Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Grace Poe, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Cynthia Villar, Francis “Tol” Tolentino, Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon, Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, and Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
Senators Ralph Recto, Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao and Panfilo “Ping” Lacson voted against the bill. Senator Imee Marcos abstained.

Upon learning of the good news, senior officials of the Bangsamoro government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), as well as civil society leaders in Mindanao, hailed the Senate’s decision on Monday to postpone the parliamentary elections from 2022 to 2025, the Mindanews report said.

Should the House of Representatives pass the same and President Rodrigo Duterte sign the bill into law, it will effectively extend the transition period in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) for three more years, the report also said.

Bangsamoro Interim Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim hailed the Senate for passing the legislation as the Bangsamoro people “stand to benefit from the extension of the transition period.”

“The extension for three more years gives us a better chance for healing, for rebuilding and for setting the future of the Bangsamoro,” said Ebrahim, also the chair of the MILF.

“Like the gains of the peace process, this is not only a victory for the Bangsamoro but for the whole Philippines,” he added.

Interior and Local Governments Minister Naguib Sinarimbo, also the spokesperson of the Bangsamoro government, described the Senate’s action as a “historic move.”

He particularly thanked Senators Tolentino and Zubiri for working out the passage of the bill.
 “This bill will ensure that we set the course for the newly established Bangsamoro autonomous region towards an irreversible course of peace and development,” Sinarimbo said.

Tolentino said that resetting the 2022 Bangsamoro elections will help ease in putting the promises of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in place for the Bangsamoro people.

The CAB is the final peace deal between the government and the MILF signed in 2014 after 17 years of negotiations. Its key feature is the creation of the Bangsamoro region, which was realized in 2019 following the ratification of Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the BARMM.

The MPC as well as the Civil Society Movement for Moral Governance has spearheaded various rallies in Metro Manila, and peace caravans calling for the congressional passage of the bill extending the Bangsamoro Transiton to 2025.

They also called on and urged President Rodrigo Duterte to certify the bills as urgent.

Lawyer Mary Ann Arnado, Secretary General of the peace advocacy group MPC, also lauded the Senate for passing the bill postponing the 2022 Bangsamoro parliamentary elections.

She urged the House of Representatives to follow the lead of the Senate. (Source: Mindanews, Sept 7, 2021)