9 Maguindanao LGUs endorse HB 8117 extending BTA lifespan

Another 2nd BARMM Anniversary fete highlight

By Ali G. Macabalang

PRAYER FOR BRIGHTER PROSPECTS IN THE BARMM. Rep. Toto Mangudadatu, BARMM Executive Secretary Abdulraof “Sammy Gambar” Macacua, Pandag Mayor Zihan Mamalinta-Mangudadatu, and Parliament Member Khadafeh “Toy” Mangudadatu render dua’a (supplication) for brighter prospects in the Bangsamoro governance on Jan. 21. (Photo supplied)

COTABATO CITY

Nine local government units (LGUs) in Maguindanao have simultaneously passed resolutions in bold endorsement of one of five Congressional bills extending the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) lifespan to 2025 in what they described as essential highlight in the four-day celebration of the new autonomous region’s second founding anniversary.

Maguindanao, comprising 36 towns, is the first component province to have heralded via provincial resolution its full support to calls for a longer period of BTA operation even before lawmakers started filing enabling bills last December. The BTA is the interim ruling body of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

While the Sangguniang Panglalawigan resolution was generic in nature, the nine LGUs’ manifestations particularly endorsed House Bill No. 8117 filed by Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu and co-authored by 1st District Rep. Ronnie Sinsuat alongside seven fellow lawmakers as of press time.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Tawi-Tawi had also passed a resolution last December for BTA longer lifespan, while the 39-member Mayors League of Lanao del Sur adopted a similar manifestation on Jan. 19, the second day of BARMM’s region-wide commemoration. But both resolutions also manifested generic endorsement.

The number of co-authors was reportedly increasing, even as members of the interim BTA parliament have aired preference for Mangudadatu’s bill.

‘Best’ version

In a press briefing here on Jan. 18, first day of BARMM anniversary fete, Parliament Member-Lawyer Jose Lorena pointed to Mangudadatu’s version as the “best” among five similar bills so far pending in the lower Congress, saying it “reflects more realities” in communities comprising the two-year old autonomous region.

The four other measures are HB Nos. 8116, 8161, 8222 and 8277 introduced one after another by Deputy Speakers Loren Legarda and Isidro Ungab, Majority Floor Leader Martin Romualdez and Lanao Norte Rep. Khalid Dimaporo.

MP Lorena did not present specifics reasons for preferring HB 8117 because the press conference was focused on parliament concerns and events related to the BARMM anniversary celebration. But the bandwagon of support has been buoyed by the simultaneous passages of resolutions by the Sangguniang Bayans of nine Maguindanao towns.

The concerned nine towns include Pandag, Barira, Datu Salibo, Buluan, Mangudadatu, Paglat, Talitay, North Upi and Datu Blah Sinsuat, according to Rep. Mangudadatu, a former three-term Maguindanao governor.

Mangudadatu has aired elation over the support of the nine towns, hinting that more areas in and outside BARMM were likely coming up with similar formal endorsements.

“Before the end of this very important day (of anniversary celebration) for Bangsamoro, we would like to thank again all our leaders including all agencies and offices, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders for their support before and up to now in the discussion (of issues and concerns in the Mindanao) peace process,”  he said.

Mangudadatu said the passage of the SB resolutions became more remarkable because they were passed in time with the culmination of the BARMM commemoration which he helped grace in Pandag town with local and regional officials. He joined BARMM Executive Secretary Macacua in launching the construction of the P25-million municipal hall building on Jan. 21. (The Philippine Muslim Today (PMT) has a separate related story on the event.)

“As a Moro, I respect and thank you very much because you didn’t lose hope that Bangsamoro will be peaceful and progressive someday,” he said in a message for supporters of his bill.

Pandag SB Resolution

The Office of Pandag Mayor and Parliament Member Khadafeh “Toy” Mangudadatu furnished the PMT an e-copy of the town’s resolution docked as first in 2021.

It was titled as a “resolution the sense of equivocal support (of the Pandag governance) to the call for amending Sec. 13, Article XVI of Republic Act 11054, otherwise known as Bangsamoro Organic Law, to postpone and synchronize the (2022) first regular election for members of the Parliament with the 2025 national and local elections as embodied in House Bill 8117 introduced by Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu…”

It cited the adverse effect of the Coronavirus pandemic that limited normal human movements and diverted much of state resources and services to containing the virus in a passion that stunted the works of the interim BTA parliament in legislating fundamental laws for BARMM within a transitional timeline ending in 2022 election of regular parliament members.

Among the basic laws, the resolution stated, is the regional electoral code that would govern the manner of electing regular parliament members mandated to pursue BTA thrusts in building a stable BARMM government reflective of the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.

The Pandag legislature corroborated Rep. Mangudadatu’s contention that the current three-year transition period f for the BTA is “too short” for full realization of the normalization and political tracks stipulated in the BOL and in the 2014 peace accord forged by the government with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The normalization track requires the disarming and decommissioning of the MILF’s 40,000 combatants. Only 12,000 of such combatants have so far been decommissioned, even as the government has paid out only P100,000 of the P1-million aid package committed to each decommissioned MILG member to transform him/her  to peace and productive life, Rep. Mangudadatu once said.

Mangudadatu, citing information from national officials and agencies, said the onslaught of COVID-19 has minimized the government’s focus on the normalization track.

Efforts for the political track which requires the building of a parliamentary form of government desired by the BOL have also been stunted by some setbacks that peaked in the advent of the viral pandemic. AGM

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