Bangsamoro Parliament resumes session, girds to pass 3 more codes

COTABATO CITY

BTA CEREMONIAL OPENING: Screenshot photo of the ceremonial opening of the Bangsamoro Parliament by Regional Wali Sheikh Khalifa Nando on June 16

The interim Bangsamoro parliament has resumed its third regular sessions this week, bracing up to pass the three remaining regional codes on electoral system, revenue, and local government mandated under R.A. 11054 (new autonomy charter) and the state’s peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The parliament’s third regular session formally resumed with the ceremonial sounding of gong by Bangsamoro Wali Sheik Khalifa Usman Nando in rites here on Tuesday, June 15, paving the way for Speaker Pangalian Balindong and Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim to unveil the accomplishments and agenda of their respective domains.

Both Balindong, a lawyer and veteran lawmaker, and Ebrahim, the MILF chairman-turned-regional chief executive, underscored the upcoming deliberation of the regional codes on electoral system, revenue and local government as top priority legislative agenda

Balindong, who physically presided over the opening of the third regular parliament session, said their chamber has already passed 18 measures, including three other priority codes—the Administrative Code, Civil Service Code and Bangsamoro Education Code.

There are about 100 bills and 430 resolutions filed in the plenary. At least 122 of the resolutions have been approved, a report from Balindong’s office said.

The enactment into law the Administrative Code, Civil Service Code and Education Code and of the remaining edicts on electoral system, revenue and local government has been required under R.A11054 or Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) as envisioned in the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) between the State and the MILF.

A regional technical working group had earlier submitted a draft of the electoral code to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for evaluation and suggestions. From the Comelec, the draft will be deliberated in the Parliament plenary, it was learned.

“The electoral code which is probably one of the most sensitive legislation(s) that this Parliament will enact must be carefully crafted to ensure that we put premium to the betterment of the electorate. We must ensure that it will pave the way for a genuine political exercise that shall serve the core of the regular Bangsamoro Government. We shall transmit this to the parliament as soon as possible,” Ebrahim said in his virtual message.

Bangsamoro government spokesman and Local Government Minister Naguib told a recent press conference that the electoral code would embody provisions for a shift from current personality-based elections to a system anchored on political party principles, platform and strides befitting the Bangsamoro aspiration for genuine, honest and fair polls.

The bills on revenue code and local government code have earlier been filed with concerned Parliament committees for through deliberation, it was learned.

In one of his sponsorship remarks on the Senate bill deferring the 2022 election of regular parliament members and extending the Bangsamoro  transition period to 2025, Senator Francisco Tolentino acknowledged a difficulty facing the autonomous government, saying that even the American government  spent several years to have its own revenue code. The Philippine Congress adopted parts of the U.S. code to be spared of the difficulty, he said.

ALI G. MACABALANG

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