House OKs bill postponing BARMM polls on 2nd reading

Maguindanao 2nd District Representative Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu (Photo from Rep. Mangudadatu's FB page)
COTABATO CITY – The House of Representatives approved on second reading Monday the bill seeking to reset the first regular elections of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) from 2022 to 2025, a lawmaker from Maguindanao announced here Tuesday.
“The transition must be extended for a longer period,” Maguindanao 2nd District Representative Esmael Mangudadatu, sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.

House Bill (HB) 10121 aims to provide the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the 80-member interim lawmaking body of BARMM, another three years to complete its mandated duties, as cited in the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL). “The remaining nine months before the May 2022 elections or the (previous) months before the October 2021 filing of candidacy is not enough for both sides to deliver the remaining 65 to 75 percent in the political task alone,” Mangudadatu said.

The House approved on second reading HB 10121 through viva voce voting due to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) restrictions.
Mangudadatu said the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed the implementation of the programs of the BTA, including the normalization and decommissioning process for thousands of former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants.

To date, about 12,000 ex-MILF combatants were decommissioned during the second phase of the normalization track under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

The normalization process includes the decommissioning of MILF combatants and their weapons, and the transformation of several camps into productive and resilient communities.

If passed into law, BARMM election polls will be moved from May 2022 to 2025.

On Sept. 6, the Senate approved on third and final reading of Senate Bill 2214 that also sought for the resetting of the first regular elections in the BARMM to 2025.

Meanwhile, the BTA has so far enacted three of six priority measures for the region -- the civil service, the administrative, and the education codes -- under the BOL.

Still undergoing deliberation at the BTA plenary are the region’s electoral, local government, and revenue codes. (PNA)