Photo by Mindanews

No more majority, a minority in the parliament, ‘just one BTA’-ICM Ahod Ebrahim

Cotabato City– The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), which will start its regular sessions on Thursday, September 22 in Cotabato City, is a Parliament with “no majority and no minority.”
“Just one BTA,” said Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim. 

Ebrahim told MindaNews in his office at the Bangsamoro Government Center in Cotabato City last Friday that in an online meeting with the BTA members before the inaugural session, the Members of Parliament (MPs) were “quite cooperative.” He noted that an MP moved to do away with the majority and minority labels. “Wala nang minority, majority. One BTA na lang tayo,” he quoted the MP as saying. “Everybody naman agreed,” he said. 

As a result, Ebrahim said, there will be no more minority floor leaders, and the newly elected majority floor leader, lawyer Sha Elijah Dumama-Alba, will be referred to as “Floor Leader.” 

Member of Parliament Pangalian Balindong, who was unanimously re-elected Speaker by 79 members present at the inaugural session last Thursday, declared in his speech that “the entire Parliament had taken a consensus that we do not distinguish between the majority and minority. We think that we are all committed towards a common aspiration and that failure will never be an option for our people.”

The BTA has 80 members, 41 of them nominated by the MILF and 39 by the government. BTA2, to distinguish it from BTA1 (2019-2022 BTA under the Duterte administration)  has a total of 55 members from the Moro revolutionary groups – 41 nominated by the MILF and 14 or seven each nominated to the government by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under Muslimin Sema and under founding chair Nur Misuari, Mindanews report said Tuesday. 

Balindong said the unity of the MNLF and the MILF in BTA2 “is a significant step towards genuine peace and harmony to rule in Muslim Mindanao.” 

“Such union does not only provide hope to harmonize the various peace agreements that the Philippine government had entered into with the biggest secessionist Muslim groups in the past 50 years. It also serves as a model for other rebel groups to realize that all of us are indispensable tools in that huge political machinery that is tasked to rebuild the foundations of our homeland,” said Balindong as quoted by Mindanews, 

Balindong stressed that failure is not an option. “We cannot fail because our people have suffered enough. It is only through our unity that we can repay the blood that our brothers and sisters had spilt in order to achieve their dream towards peace, progress and the right to self-determination.”

. “Magkaroon na ng isang floor leader. Merong assistant floor leader. So wala nang minority, majority,” (We will have one floor leader. There will be an assistant floor leader. So there is no more minority, majority), Ebrahim added. 

Aside from Balindong and Dumama-Alba, the Parliament has seven Deputy Speakers: lawyers Nabil Tan, Paisalin Tago, Omar Yasser Crisostomo Sema, Lanang Ali, Jr. and Hatimil Hassan, Benjamin Loong and Abdulkarim Misuari. 

Among the Deputy Speakers are the sons of MNLF leaders Nur Misuari and Muslimin Sema, Abulkarim Misuari and Omar Crisostomo Sema. 

Ebrahim told MindaNews on Friday that the Local Government Code had been filed in the previous BTA but will be re-filed in BTA2. He said the Revenue Code might take a bit longer because it is “too technical” but they also hope to pass the Bangsamoro Indigenous People’s Rights Act, the Gender and Development Code, the Internally Displaced People law, the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities, Irrigation System Bill, and Energy Development Corporation of the Bangsamoro Charter.

The transition period ends at noon on June 30, 2025, when the first set of officials elected in May 2025 shall have taken their oath, the Mindanews report said.