By Ali G. Macabalang
Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu remains optimistic for Congressional approval of three additional years in the lifespan of the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority (BTA), the governing body of the new Muslim Mindanao autonomous region.
Rep. Mangudadatu, one of lawmakers rallying the extension of the BTA transitional period from 2022 to 2025, aired his at a forum in Makati City on Jan. 12, during which he announced the increasing momentum of the proposal in the House of Representatives.
He announced that a fourth enabling bill was also filed lately by Deputy Speaker Isidro Ungab ng Davao City, making the number of related legislative measures to four.
Rep. Mangudadatu, a former three-term Maguindanao governor, filed last Dec. 1 House Bill No. 8117. House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, Majority Floor Leader Martin Romualdez, and Lanao del Norte Rep. Khalid Dimaporo had followed suit with their separate versions.
He said his bill alone has already mustered the full support of eight fellow lawmakers volunteering as co-authors.
Mangudadatu’s legislative staff said technical working committees in the House have already begun harmonizing the four bills for smooth deliberation in the plenary.
It said at least two senators were poised to author counterpart bills in the Senate, in a move giving rise to possibility of an approval of BTA’s extended lifespan within this year. All enabling bills in effect seek to postpone the election of 80 regular parliament members of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The Maguindanao solon was among lawmakers into the Jan. 12 dialog dubbed as “focus group discussion” (FGD) attended also by officials from BARMM, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP), and the Inter-Governmental Relations Body (IGRB), among other stakeholders.
At the forum, Mangudadatu urged fellow lawmakers to support the regional transition extension proposal, which he said will enable the BTA to fully translate to realities the provisions of the BARMM Charter (R.A. 11054) and those of the government’s major peace deals with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2013 and 2014.
“Sa lahat ng aking mga kasamahan sa kongreso, bigyan natin ng full support itong extension ng BTA, dahil ang mag-aani nito ay hindi po tayo, kundi ang ating mga kababayan sa Southern Philippines lalo na sa Bangsamoro region na nanggangailangan ng maayos na pamumuhay,” Mangudadatu said.
BARMM Attorney General Sha-Elijah Dumama-Alba told the forum that given a longer transition period, the BTA will be able to put in place and institutionalize a bureaucracy that is “fully operational, responsive, and appropriate for the peculiar needs of the Bangsamoro people.”
She pointed out the concept behind the move is not about clinging on to power, but to give sufficient time to complete normalization and political tracks mandated in the BARMM charter and the government-MILF peace accords.
For his part, OPAPP Assistant Secretary Wilben Mayor said that although the interim Bangsamoro governance has formulated its development plan, its implementation would need to go beyond a three-year period and ensure real opportunities for the Bangsamoro people.
“Rest assured that the OPAPP will support this initiative as well as provide the technical and administrative support. The success of the Bangsamoro Government will also be the success of the national government and the whole Filipino nation,” Mayor said.
Lawmaker-members of the House vital panels (Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, Committee on Muslim Affairs, and Special Committee on Peace Reconciliation and Unity) reassured their support to the extension move.
Also present in the dialog were BARMM Cabinet Secretary Moh’d Asnin Pendatun, Bangsamoro Development and Planning Authority Director General Mohajirin Ali, Chief of Staff Alvin-Yasher Abdulgafar, and Regional Information Director Ameen Andrew Alonto. AGM