Wednesday Mar, 22 2023 05:08:11 AM

Senate approves Bangsamoro transition extension

Breaking News • 20:00 PM Mon Sep 6, 2021
Sheila De La Cruz Publication and Media Relations Division, BTA
Senator Francis Tolentino, chair of Senate Committee on Local Government and principal author of the bill. (Senate photo gallery)

—With 15 affirmative votes, three negative votes, and one abstention, the Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading the bill postponing the first regular elections of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) from May 2022 to May 2025. 

Senators Panfilo Lacson, Manny Pacquiao, and Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto rejected the measure, while Senator Imee Marcos abstained from voting. 

Senate Bill 2214 proposed to defer polls in the region, extending the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) term for another three years, and amending the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL). 

The measure also states that "upon the expiration of the incumbent members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the President shall appoint 80 members of the BTA who shall serve up to June 30, 2025, or until their successors have been elected."

"The passage of this measure will give us a chance to continue working towards attaining peace in the region and fully realizing the promises of the comprehensive agreement of the Bangsamoro," Senator Francis Tolentino, chair of Senate Committee on Local Government and principal author of the bill said.

SB 2214 is a substitute bill to SBs 2019 and 2025 introduced by Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III and Richard Gordon.

"Adding three more years to the transition period is nothing compared to the four decades of violent conflict and almost two decades of grueling negotiations between the government of the Philippines and the MILF," Tolentino added. 

With the bill's enactment, he expressed, the BTA would have enough time to complete its mandated duties during the peace-keeping process.  

"They should finish the electoral code this coming 2022 to ensure the orderly conduct of elections come 2025," he continued. 

The electoral code is among the six priority legislation the Bangsamoro Parliament needs to pass during the transition period.  

Of the six measures, the BTA has legislated three—administrative, civil service, and education code. 

The electoral, local government, and revenue codes are yet to be passed in the plenary. 

Members of the Parliament had earlier expressed their gratitude to the Senate for "shepherding the process" of the bill's passage. 

According to them, all 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,” Bangsamoro Parliament Deputy Speaker Zia Adiong said.

Meanwhile, on August 26, the committees of Suffrage and electoral reform, Muslim affairs, and Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity of the House of Representatives have approved the committee report containing the consolidated proposals to extend BARMM's first regular elections. 

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