By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim has called on the constituents of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to start working cohesively towards the common dream for robust and progressive governance.
Ebrahim made the call on the same day President Duterte officially deferred the 2022 BARMM elections and extended the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) operations to 2025 after nine months of processes that had ostensibly divided political quarters in the autonomous region.
“It’s time to move forward; it’s time to set aside our differences; it’s time to help one another in transforming the Bangsamoro,” Ebrahim said in a statement conveying also his administration’s “warmest gratitude” to the President for signing into law the consolidated Congressional bills BARMM on October 28.
The signed measures, Senate Bill 2214 and House Bill 10121, translated to R.A. 11593, which amended R.A. 11054 or Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) that originally set the BARMM parliament election in time with the May 9, 2022 synchronized local and national polls.
The call for BARMM transition extension was suggested in November 2020 by the Mindanao People’s Caucus, a confederation of many civil society organizations, in its “midterm review” of the interim regional governance.
The review concluded that the interim operation of the regional governance could not complete in three years (2019-2022) its major thrusts mandated under the BOL and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) due various delaying factors compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CAB and BOL prescribed for two thrusts: The Normalization Track that will decommission the MILF fighters and transform them to peaceful and productive civilians; and The Political or Government Track meant to build a robust autonomous entity requiring passage of basic regional codes.
The BTA Parliament consequently passed a resolution urging Congress to amend R.A. 11054 to postpone the 2022 BARMM elections and extend the transition period to 2025.
From the proposition stage up to the enactment of enabling law, proponents and supporters had mobilized people in street caravans, media briefings and signature campaigns. But minority quarters also staged opposing efforts. The two blocks had traded contrasting views that filled spaces in both traditional and social media channels.
Because of contrasting information reaching him, the President once announced opting for “neutral” stance in the debate until he later certified the bills as urgent, and finally signed the ratified and consolidated measures into law.
“We thank President Duterte and his administration for making sure that the GPH-MILF Peace Process will succeed. This is our shared legacy to Mindanao and the rest of the country,” Ebrahim, who also chairs the MILF, said.
The President’s approval valued the “collective desire of the Bangsamoro people (for) a strong regional bureaucracy that can address our decades-long challenges and make sure that a brighter future awaits (us) – free from corruption, from manipulation and from any ills of government,” he added.
But he assured anew that the extension “was and will never be about power” by a few people but “for the triumph of the whole of Bangsamoro.” (AGM)