‘Extension or Extinction, we keep serving,’ says Sinarimbo


COTABATO CITY – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao interim spokesman Naguib Sinarimbo has asserted the need for continuity in the delivery of services and focal interventions for the welfare of their constituents, especially the poor and underprivileged sectors, regardless of any result from the Congressional deliberation on the call for extension in the ARMM’s transitional period.    

“Whether there is extension or extinction, we will keep on exerting utmost effort to fulfill our mandates for the welfare of Bangsamoro people,” Sinarimbo, concurrent BARMM’s Local Government minister, pointed out during the launch on Saturday, Aug. 21 of the weekly “Tapatan” Forum of the Bangsamoro Press Corps (BPC).

The term “extinction” was Sinarimbo’s satirical description of possible erosion in public enthusiasm for an extended lifespan of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the BARMM’s interim ruling body, amid debates over the call for Congress to postpone the 2022 parliament polls and extend its transition period for three more years.

Also on Saturday, BARMM Senior Minister Abdulraof Macacua confirmed Senators’ plan to resume deliberation on Monday, Aug. 23 Senate Bill 2214 authored by Sen. Francis Tolentino to defer the parliament election and extend the BTA lifespan to 2025.

But in a post written in Maguindanaon dialect, Macacua urged stakeholders to refrain from speculating about alleged change of hearts among local political quarters in regards to the extension call. He said supporters should instead strengthen their prayers for a positive outcome of the Congressional deliberation.

“Tumelen tanu mangantap sa aden mga tao/politicians a bagitong sa di ma-extend ka apia ngin pan na yabon talotop na enday kanu Allah SWT na ento bon ba i manggula. Kan dua endo kanggalbek i nasisita kena kapangantap,” said Macacuas, who is a concurrent BTA senior member.

At the “Tapatan” forum, the Bangsamoro Press Corps asked Minister Sinarimbo for an update about Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri’s earlier request for BARMM officials to sit down with Senator Ping Lacson and brief him on basic issues necessitating a deferment in the 2022 parliament election and extension in the BTA operational period before the Upper Chamber resume deliberation of Tolentino’s bill.

During plenary session on Aug. 4, Sen. Zubiri asked the Senate to invite Commission on Elections Chair Sheriff Abas or his commissioners to appear in the Senate on Aug. 23 and shed light on poll deferment required in extending the BTA lifespan.

The Comelec, meanwhile, has adopted an en banc resolution setting the poll body’s preparation for the 2022 polls to include the BARMM parliament election, though citing the absence of a regional electoral code.

Sen. Tolentino was poised to continue presenting his bill for second plenary reading on Aug. 23, with Lacson listed as last to face him in the interpellation stage. He had noted that by Aug. 23, the Comelec would have just 39 days to prepare for the October 1-8 filing of candidacies in the 2022 elections.

Race against time

Minister Sinarimbo admitted that Congress was racing against time. Extension proponents believed the trend would have been different had President Duterte certified the bill urgent as besought in a series of multi-sector petitions.

The Senate remained at the second plenary hearing of the bill, in which a House technical working group harmonized five enabling bills into one substitute bill for final deliberation at joint-committee hearing, according to Sinarimbo.

But pending uncertainties in the outcome of the 18th Congress deliberations on the issue, Sinarimbo said the BARMM governance would remain relentless in carrying out life-enhancing projects and services alongside the adoption of all necessary measures in building a parliament-style autonomous bureaucracy.

He cited the continuing launch of unprecedented socio-economic and infrastructure projects in BARMM component areas, namely Maguindanao, Lanao del sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces, the cities of Maraw, Lamitan and Cotabato and the 63-village special geographical area (SGA) in North Cotabato.

Among the latest of BARMM government’s intervening measures were the dispersal of ambulance units, fire trucks and desalination machines across the region, notably in the three island provinces, Sinarimbo said.

Massive construction of school buildings, barangay and municipal hall edifices, road concreting, and delivery of both relief and health services have also been in full-swing, he said.

Capacitating former combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and surrendering members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters is likewise pushing through, he said.

“Whether there is extension or extinction (in the calls for longer BTA lifespan), the BARMM governance will continue to carry out its mandates,” Sinarimbo told the BPC “Tapatan” forum.

Under the MILF-government peace accords and R.A. 11054 (Bangsamoro Organic Law), the BARMM governance is mandated to pursue two main thrusts: The Normalization Track for the decommissioning of 40,000 MILF members and their firearms to transform them into peaceful and productive life; and the Political Track meant to fully establish an autonomous entity and bring about stable peace and equitable growth in the Bangsamoro region. (PMT)

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