By Ali G. Macabalang
Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu has lauded Senator Koko Pimentel for filing a counterpart bill on the Bangsamoro governance’s quest for transition extension, expressing hope for more proponents or supporters in the Higher Chamber of Congress.
“To Senator Pimentel, we convey our utmost thanks. We in the Bangsamoro continuously trust that more senators will help us realize our dream for stable, responsive and upright autonomous governance to shape lasting peace and equitable development in our region,” Rep. Mangudadatu said in state in Pilipino conveyed to the Philippine Muslim Today by his legislative staff.
Mangudadatu, a former three-term governor of Maguindanao, also thanked key leaders in the Muslim, Christian and Lumad sectors like Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, Governors Bombit Adiong of Lanao del Sur and Nancy Catamco of North Cotabato as well as organized groups in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi for issuing separate statements of support for a postponement in the 2022 election for first regular members of the Bangsamoro parliament.
“Supportive manifestations are inspiring us in the House of Representatives to do our part in helping build an entity that can effectively bring BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) to greater heights,” he added.
He cited the need for the BARMM constituents to “rise above” the vestiges of Mindanao conflict that had left 120,000 people killed, multitude of families displaced and huge development potentials wasted.
Mangudadatu introduced on Dec. 1, 2020 House Bill 8117, one of four measures in the lower Congress seeking to reset the 2022 election for regular BARMM Parliament members and extend the interim legislature ‘s office term to 2025. A fifth bill i has also been filed in the House, but this proposes the conduct of the 2022 polls as scheduled, with a prayer for BARMM transitional operation until 2028.
BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim has welcomed and described as “acceptable” the four election-resetting bills, the three being authored by Deputy Speakers Loren Legarda and Isidro Ungab and Majority Floor Leader Martin Romualdez.
The three concerned House committees on Muslim Affairs, Electoral Reforms, and Peace, Unity and Reconciliation started on Jan 11 their series of joint hearings on the five bills in prelude to harmonizing them into an omnibus bill for deliberation in plenary sessions, according to Mangudadatu.
The joint hearing dubbed as “Focused Group Discussion” was attended by concerned lawmakers, key officials from BARMM, national line agencies like the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process, and other stakeholders.
In his speech at the FGD in Makati City, Legislative Staff Beverly Ballitoc said, Mangudadatu prodded the public on the “sacrifices” of revolutionary groups like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in fighting for self-determination, respectable identity and rights among Bangsamoro people for years or decades.
The armed conflict, which initially subsided with the MNLF‘s signing of 1996 final peace accord with the government, has substantially fizzled out after the MILF forged the Comprehensive on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with Malacañang in 2014. The CAB has been legally translated by R.A. 11054 (BARMM charter) enacted in July 2018.
After the regional charter’s ratification in the Jan. 21, 2019 plebiscite, President Duterte inaugurated the BARMM interim governance on March 29 of the same year following his appointment of Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) members.
But the BTA initial operations to enact fundamental laws and build mechanisms implementing the Normalization and Political Tracks under R.A. 11054 and the CAB, have been stunted by the advent of the global COVID-19 pandemic that diverted the attention of all government instrumentalities to containing the viral disease, Mangudadatu said.
OPAPP Secretary Carlos Galvez Jr., concurrent chief implementer of COVID-19 protocols, has repeatedly said that President Duterte had agreed with the BTA quest for extension amid the adverse effects of the pandemic on initial undertakings of the interim regional governance.
Galvez also cited the assessment reports of non-government groups like the Mindanao People’s Caucus and the Third Party Monitoring Body that the 2019-2022 transition is “insufficient” for the BTA to fulfill its mandates. AGM