By Ali G. Macabalang
THE HOUSE of Representatives passed tonight, Sept. 15, on third and final reading its bill extending the lifespan of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) after President Duterte certified the measure as urgent to give the new autonomous governance “sufficient time to complete its mandate” under its charter and state’s peace accords.
House Bill 10121 gathered 187 approval votes sans objection or abstention in the plenary session presided over by Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera-Dy on behalf of Speaker Lord Alan Velasco.
The Presidential certification and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea’s transmittal letter, both dated Sept. 14, purportedly reached on Wednesday the House leadership, prompting Deputy Majority Floor Leader Rimpy Bondoc to move for suspension of regular plenary rules and swift passage of the bill.
The bill resets to 2025 the first regular election of BTA members by amending the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) charter that set the poll in the synchronized May 9, 22 local and national voting.
It substituted five bills filed by Manguindanao 2nd District Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, Deputy Speakers Loren Legarda and Isidro Ungab, Majority Leader Martin Romuladez and Lanao del Norte Rep. Khalid Dimaporo.
It stayed for months at the level of joint-committees – a reason the Senate deferred the passage on second reading of its version or SB 2214 on June 23 before declaring adjournment sine die.
Senate Bill 2214, authored by Senator Francis Tolentino as a substitute two bills earlier filed by Senators Dick Gordon and Koko Pimentel, was passed on second reading on Aug. 25, with 18-1 votes sans abstention. It was approved on third and final reading on Sept. 6, with 15 affirmative votes. Senators Ping Lacson, Manny Pacquiao and Ralph Recto voted against, with Sen. Marcos abstained.
Senators Tolentino and Migz Zubiri demonstrated persistence in the approval on two stages of the bill in less than a month – something that earned for them profuse praises by BARMM officials, residents and supportive civil society organizations.
‘Thanks also to objectors’
During Wednesday night’s House plenary, Rep. Mangudadatu was seen on live stream in virtual presence, gesturing his peak of joy as presiding Deputy Speaker Herrera-Dy sounded the gavel for the unanimous approval of HB 10121.
The bill’s final approval came with several lawmakers including Herrera-Dy formally making themselves co-authors.
Rep. Manudadatu, who served as main author of the substitute bill, expressed gratitude to President Duterte for his official urgent push, his supportive colleagues, his legal staff, BARMM officials like Minister Naguib Sinarimbo, and “also opposing lawmakers” he did not name.
“Dahil sa kanila pamamaraang pagtutol, ako ay nagkaroon ng mas maigting na pagpupursige para itulak at mangalap lalo ng suporta,” Mangudadatu said, referring to opposing colleagues.
House leaders acknowledged requests from Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman and Anak Mindanao Party-list Rep. Amilhilda Sangcopan to submit narratives of their votes.
The House passed on second reading HB 10121 on Monday, Sept. 13 after Mangudadatu delivered his sponsorship speech, which drew interpellation for about an hour by Hataman, Basilan’s lone representative. The latter asserted but failed to institute a provision that will authorize only the next President to appoint BTA members.
Members of the 80-seat BTA Parliament members were appointed by President Duterte to serve until June 30 next year in time for his last day in office. But Mangudadatu’s bill provides a room for the sitting President to appoint the second set of BTA members “upon the approval” of a law postponing the 2022 parliament election.
In effect, the House version differs with the Senate counterpart bill that allows the President to appoint BTA members upon the expiration of the incumbents’ term on June 20, 2022, Minister Sinarimbo, a lawyer, said.
Because of the “substantial difference” between the House and Senate bills, Sinarimbo said, there will be a need for a bicameral committee conference.
Interview over the phone Wednesday night by the Philippine Muslim Today news, Sinarimbo expressed conference that with the Presidential urgent certification, the bicameral body will be able to mend the difference and beat time in the upcoming filing of candidacies on October 1-8 for the May 9, 2022 elections. (AGM)