Challenges, gains in BARMM transition cited

By Ali G. Macabalang

ANKARA, TURKEY – DECEMBER 27: Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Murad Ebrahim speaks to the press in Ankara, Turkey on December 2016. (Photo by Fatih Kurt/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

COTABATO CITY

Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) officials are optimistic of bright prospects in the future as they reported out some gains their transitional governance has achieved amid challenges that hinge mainly on temporal limits.

At the Chief Minister’s Hour, a sort of year-end report, on Dec. 23, BARMM chieftain Ahod “Al-Haj Murad” Ebrahim cited challenges facing the interim government throughout its transition period, which he said prompted the call for an extension in the interim governance from 2022 to 2025.

“The transitional environment sets some limitations in instituting changes and reforms in the BARMM,” Ebrahim said, referring to a provision in R.A. 11054 (Bangsamoro organic Law) that sets the end of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority’s (BTA’s) operations in 2022.

Debates over the extension call and lobby efforts had prompted some lawmakers to file bills postponing the 2022 election of regular parliament members and extending the BTA’s lifespan to 2025, with President Duterte and his cabinet committing support.

Maguindanao Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, author of one of enabling bills, was that Congress will pass the measure, even as he believed that a Presidential certification of the proposal as “urgent” will hasten the process of legislation.

Chief Minister Ebrahim echoed a popular notion that the BOL provides a “short” period for the BARMM transition.

“Studies conducted on peace processes all-over the world recommended six to 10 years of transition period for a post-conflict government to be fully effective and operational,” Ebrahim said.

At a media party here on Dec. 23 also, BARMM spokesman and Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said such “studies” also showed that 60 percent of peace agreements in the world had bogged down, with only 40 percent successful.

“We are hopeful that the Philippine government’s peace accord with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILG) will fall under the 40-percent category,” Sinarimbo told journalists at the year-end party.

For Ebrahim, the extension “is necessary, so that the BTA is afforded sufficient time within which to satisfactorily accomplish its tasks and commitments under the Bangsamoro Organic Law and for the National Government to deliver the pending programs under the normalization process.”.

Besides, he pointed that the transition involves institutional and political changes that should take place in setting up a parliamentary form of government under Philippines’ unitary system – something that takes time. 

Delays in the implementation of some provisions of the BOL, irregular mode of transfer of annual block grant, and the Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) have brought negative impacts in “carefully navigating the transition period,” he said.

The proposed transition extension in effect entails an amendment of the Section 13 Article XVI of R.A. 11054.

Apart from Rep. Mangudadatu’s bill, Reps. Loren Legarda, Martin Romualdez and Khalid Dimapro have also filed similar bills for the purpose.

Ebrahim expressed hope more representatives will do the same or co-author the bills.

“With several bills filed in Congress and the unwavering support of His Excellency President Rodrigo Road Duterte and his Cabinet, we are optimistic that we can push through this important goal. Not for the President. Not for the MILF. Not for the BTA,” Ebrahim stressed. 

Transitional gains

Despite the temporal challenge, Ebrahim said the interim Bangsamoro government has been able to accomplish fundamental objectives for its constituents. 

Such gains included the adoption of the transition plan, enactment of priority legislations, gradual phase out of employees and provision of separation incentives, and merit-based personnel hiring, among others.

“Halfway through the transition period, I am proud to say that the BTA, as the interim Bangsamoro government, has made remarkable accomplishments as a government for the Bangsamoro people,” Ebrahim said.

He also described the successful turnover of supervision authority over this city and the 63 villages in North Cotabato as part of their initial gains.

The Office of the Chief Minister and its line ministries have likewise started in putting in place unprecedented infra projects for local government units, and continuously health, medical and relief services and goods amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for joining us in this dream and for tirelessly representing our people and their hopes. We have come a long way, but the road is still a long way to go. We cannot and we must not stop until we build a government reflective of our sacrifices, history, and a proud future for those who will follow, In shaa Allah,” Ebrahim said. (AGM)

Despite the temporal challenge, Ebrahim said the interim Bangsamoro government has been able to accomplish fundamental objectives for its constituents. 

Such gains included the adoption of the transition plan, enactment of priority legislations, gradual phase out of employees and provision of separation incentives, and merit-based personnel hiring, among others.

“Halfway through the transition period, I am proud to say that the BTA, as the interim Bangsamoro government, has made remarkable accomplishments as a government for the Bangsamoro people,” Ebrahim said.

He also described the successful turnover of supervision authority over this city and the 63 villages in North Cotabato as part of their initial gains.

The Office of the Chief Minister and its line ministries have likewise started in putting in place unprecedented infra projects for local government units, and continuously health, medical and relief services and goods amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for joining us in this dream and for tirelessly representing our people and their hopes. We have come a long way, but the road is still a long way to go. We cannot and we must not stop until we build a government reflective of our sacrifices, history, and a proud future for those who will follow, In shaa Allah,” Ebrahim said. AGM

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