Dual use of Hijri, Gregorian calendars opted in BARMM

By Philippine Muslim Today News

Bangsamoro member of parliament Omar Yasser Sema.

COTABATO CITY – The interim Bangsamoro parliament has mandated the synchronized use of Hijri and Gregorian calendars in official business undertakings in the new autonomous region, describing the move as a springboard for regional self-determination.

The 80-seat legislature of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) passed last Tuesday, August 17  on third and final reading the bill mandating all ministries, agencies, local government units, offices, and institutions in the area of autonomy to observe the dual use of the two universal calendars in public transactions.

“This is considered as landmark legislation because it epitomized our exercise of right to self-determination,” Deputy Speaker Omar Yasser Sema, a lawyer and bill principal author, averred upon the passage of the measure.

BTA Bill No. 87, titled as the “Bangsamoro Dual Calendar Act of 2021,” was approved sans opposition or abstention by the parliament members, according to the legislature’s media and public affairs office.

“Our issue on autonomy in the Bangsamoro has been there for 50 years already, and this is the first time that we have acted upon the primacy of the predominant way of life in the region, the Islamic way of life and the culture,” Sema was quoted as pointing out.

The Hijri calendar, commonly known as the Islamic calendar, is used to determine Islamic months, while the Gregorian calendar refers to the solar dating system used by most countries.

Once singed into regional law by Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim, the edict shall require the harmonized use of the two calendars in government’s formal correspondences like memorandums, office orders and other written documents across the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), it was learned.

“The Islamic calendar has an immense importance in every Muslim’s life (reflective of) much deeper religious and historical meaning,” according to Parliament Member Baintan Ampatuan, one of co-authors.

Starting this year, public entities and instrumentalities in BARMM shall be using the harmonized calendars marking the dates of Islamic holidays and observances, notably the migration of Prophet Muhammad from Makkah (Mecca) to Madinah in the month of Rabi Al-Awwal, the Parliament media office said.

The BARMM’s Darul Ifta (House of Islamic Opinion) would be tasked to carry out steps needed in the implementation of the regional edict, proponents said.

They said the legislation will hopefully inspire the younger generation in BARMM to learn more about Islamic history and culture.

As an implementing entity, the Bangsamoro Darul-Ifta is expected to uphold the legislative measure’s requirements with the utmost integrity, efficiency, responsibility, and accountability, Sema said.

The initial implementation of the harmonized calendar system will draw a P10-million subsidy for use in the printing and publishing of the Islamic timetable and for purchase of equipment for moon sighting. ALI G. MACABALANG

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