Sunday Sep, 19 2021 10:31:41 AM

BARMM leaders welcomed passage of bill resetting polls, extending BTA life

BANGSAMORO NEWS UPDATES • 16:45 PM Tue Sep 7, 2021
Edwin Fernandez

COTABATO CITY – Officials and parliamentarians of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) have welcomed the Senate's move to pass on third and final reading the bill resetting the region's elections from 2022 to 2025 and extending the life of its transition period.

BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim said extending the term of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) gave the region a “better chance” in setting the future of the Bangsamoro people.

“By extending the transition period -- the BTA gets ample time to finish the job and make sure that the next regional officials will work under a system that befits the realities of the Bangsamoro and responds to the changing times,” Ebrahim said in a statement Tuesday.

The Senate voted to pass Monday on third and final reading Senate Bill 2214 resetting the BARMM elections and thereby extending the BTA and the transition period to 2025.

Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, the BARMM regional spokesperson, said comprehensive peace and development is within reach now with the passage of the bill.

“This bill will ensure that we set the course for the newly established Bangsamoro region towards an irreversible course of peace and development,” Sinarimbo, also BARMM interior minister, said in a separate statement.

He thanked the leadership of the Senate and specifically lauded Senator Francis Tolentino, author of Senate Bill 2214 and Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri “for this historic move.”

Members of the BTA parliament expressed their gratitude to the Senate for "shepherding the process" of the bill's passage, saying senators who participated and raised concerns during the deliberation of the proposal had made a substantial impact on the bill's enactment.

“We are grateful to the senators who have chosen to provide ample time and space for the transition authority to fulfill its mandate and in effect secure the hard-earned gains of the peace process rather than to subject our people yet again to a routinary political exercise which often creates disunity in our region,” BTA Deputy Speaker Zia Adiong said.

Maguindanao Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, who authored a similar bill in the House of Representatives, also lauded the senators for taking into consideration the welfare of the Mindanao peace process than their personal political interest.

The 15 senators who voted "yes" on the third reading include Senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Pia Cayetano, Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, Sherwin Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, Grace Poe, Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., Cynthia Villar, Francis Tolentino, Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon, Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Senators Ralph Recto, Emmanuel Pacquiao and Panfilo Lacson voted against the bill, while Senator Imee Marcos abstained.

If enacted into law, the country's next president will be given authority to appoint the 80 members of the BTA.

The term of the current BTA members will end on June 30, 2022.

In the past months, several caravans and calls were held by civilians both in Mindanao and in Manila to persuade both the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass the bill.

Several leaders and personalities have also shared similar calls, saying the bill will help save the gains of the peace process. 

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