By Ali G. Macabalang
The Senate has joined the bandwagon of supports for an extended Bangsamoro transitional operation, with Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III filing on Monday, January 25, the first enabling bill in the higher chamber of Congress that bolstered the bandwagon of efforts to postpone the 2022 parliamentary election.
Pimentel, one of incumbent senators from Mindanao, introduced Senate Bill No. 2019, which seeks to amend Section 13 Article 16 of R. A. 11054, the 2018 Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Charter that set the first regular members of the BARMM Parliament in 2022.
His bill also seeks to R.A. 6734 of 1989 that established the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as amended in 2001 by R.A. 9054 that strengthened and expanded the ARMM territory.
Pimentel’s move has bolstered the still growing bandwagon of supports from Muslim, Christian and Lumad sectors, the latest of which came from Mayor Rosita Furigay of Lamitan City in an official communiqué handed on Monday by her husband-Vice Mayor Roderick Furigay to BARMM Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal.
Furigay said her city “honestly believes that sufficient time is needed for the BTA (Bangsamoro Transition Authority) to lay down the foundation for the institutionalization of a just and lasting peace and to maintain the momentum in achieving economic growth in the Bangsamoro.”
Lamitan is one of two cities in Basilan, a BARMM component province whose executive and legislative leaderships were earlier reported as opposed to moves for extension in the 2019-2022 reign of BTA, the interim ruling body of the new autonomous region.
Lamiteños have already felt the initial gains of the new regional governance and “it is but right and just to allow it to come to fruition so that we do not compromise the peace and gains we have achieved,” Furigay said.
Reliable sources said Furigay is one of six mayors in Basilan supportive of extended BTA rule. The five other mayors met less than two weeks ago with BARMM Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo, they said.
Sulu second district Rep. Abdulmunir Arbison also expressed his support to the Bangsamoro transition extension in another statement posted in the official Facebook page of Luuk municipal government.
The call for poll postponement and the campaign for moral governance by the interim BARMM administration are “overwhelmingly supported by the people in the 2nd District of Sulu,” the post quoted Arbison as saying.
Rep. Arbison has earlier visited BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim at his office here, during which he reportedly expressed verbal support for poll postponement.
“Let’s give moral governance a chance and help President Duterte to fulfill his legacy for lasting peace in Mindanao,” Arbison was quoted as stressing.
Last week, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, the highest Catholic Church leader in BARMM, and Governors Bombit Adiong of Lanao del Sur and Nancy Catamco also issued statements rallying the call to postpone the 2022 polls to 2025 and allow the interim regional leadership-initiated reforms to take due full course.
Catamco, the first elected Lumad governor in North Cotabato, said the “success of the Bangsamoro benefits her own province.” Sixty villages in North Cotabao are now parts of BARMM.
Meanwhile, Maguindanao second District Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu welcomed the filing of Sen. Pimentel’s bill, saying the senate measure implied the potential passage of a harmonized version in the whole Congress for the postponement of the 2022 election of regular parliament members.
After filing on Dec. 1, 2020 his poll-delaying measures (HB 8117), Mangudadatu told the Philippine Muslim Today that he expected at least two Senate bills to follow suit.
Five bills including Mangudatu;s have already been filed in the House of Representatives to extend the BTA reign. But a version of Lanao del Norte Rep. Khalid Dimaporo wants the 2022 polls held on time and the BARMM operation extended up to 2028. AGM