By Masiding Noor Yahya
MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur, Philippines — Amidst cheers and joy, thousands of Maranaos held motorcade around several towns in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur provinces on Saturday, Sept. 18, to express their gratitude to national lawmakers and to President Rodrigo Duterte for having the governance of Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) extended by another three years and moving the regional parliamentary elections to 2025.
Multisector groups led by the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) organized what they called the Shukur Caravan, or the Caravan of Thanksgiving.
UBJP is the electoral arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that was organized after it signed a peace deal with the government in 2014.
One group started the caravan in Marawi City and traveled down to Iligan City and back. Another started in Lanao del Sur town of Malabang towards Sultan Naga Dimaporo town in Lanao del Norte and back.
Other caravans were also organized in other parts of the Bangsamoro region and in some parts of Mindanao.
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed the measure resetting the regional parliamentary elections originally set for 2022 to 2025, thereby extending the life of the MILF-led Bangsamoro Transition Authority, the provisional government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) since March 2019.
Senate Bill No. 2214 was approved last Sept. 6, and House Bill No. 10121 was passed on Sept. 15, a day after Duterte certified the urgency of the measure.
Senate urged to adopt House version
Maguindanao 2nd Dist. Rep. Esmail “ToTo” Mangudadatu urged the Senate to adopt the House version of BTA extension bill.
Mangudadatu told the Philippine Muslim Today this will hasten the bicameral harmonization process and pave the way for the entry of more competent interim regional legislators and administrators.
BARMM Interim Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim told the media giving the BTA three more years “puts us in a better position to ensure that the provisions and agreements in the GPH (Government of the Philippines)-MILF peace process are properly implemented.”
“The extension of the transition period will allow the interim Bangsamoro Government to pour in all its efforts in establishing an institution that acknowledges the circumstances of the Bangsamoro and will provide opportunities for everyone to take part in reshaping our homeland,” he added.
“The president’s support for the measure was an act of reassuring the success of the Bangsamoro peace process,” he added.
On his part, Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo expressed their gratitude to the Senate and the House of Representatives for passing on third and final reading the said bill.
“Above all, we are grateful to our people for their overwhelming support to the leadership of the Bangsamoro Government and the extension of the BTA as demonstrated by their overwhelming participation in this simultaneous event,” Sinarimbo said on social media. “From the leadership of the party, the UBJP, we thank all of you.”
Media quoted Deputy Chief Minister Alim Ali Solaiman as saying the passage of the law that would extend the BTA would mean a lot to Bangsamoro people.
“This will mean that the lives and sacrifices of those who fought in this struggle and those who shed blood, sweat, and tears for the future generation to have a prosperous, and peaceful future in a region that is fully capable of charting its own destiny will not go down the drain,” Solaiman added.
Member of Parliament Said Shiek said the three-year transition was too short “for governmental reforms that will completely address and respond to the root causes of the problems in the Bangsamoro Region.”
“We are very grateful to President Duterte for certifying the BTA Extension bill as urgent, to the congress for fast-tracking the bill and to the Bangsamoro people for their constant prayers, efforts, and untiring support,” Shiek added. (With reports from agencies)