By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte can revamp the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) to name fresh members under the harmonized Congressional bill deferring the 2022 parliament poll and extending the BTA lifespan to 2025, according to lawmakers and legal luminaries.
This prospect, ostensibly pushed by principal proponent Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, has so far drawn acceptance from the offices of interim Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim, Senior Minister Abdulraof “Sammy Gambar” Macacua, and Ministers Mohagher Iqbal and Naguib Sinarimbo, sources told the Philippine Muslim Today news.
The Senate and the House of Representatives (HoR) convened on Tuesday their bicameral body, which reconciled SB 2214 and HB 10121, and adopted largely in the approved bill the lower chamber’s provision concerning the plight of incumbent members of the 80-seat BTA appointed by President Duterte in 2019.
The two panels led by Senator Francis Tolentino and Rep. Juliet Marie Herrera held the bicameral conference at the Senate annex building, with the physical attendance of Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Ronald dela Rosa as well as Maguindanao Congressmen Ronnie Sinsuat and Mangudadatu. Other members participated virtually.
The House panel presented later on Tuesday the bicameral report, which was swiftly ratified unanimously in plenary. The Senate panel was expected to follow suit. By then, the government printing office will “enroll” or print the bill for signing into law by President Duterte within a 10 days period. He can veto partly or wholly the bill, legislation experts said.
“During the extension of the transition period, the (BTA) shall continue as the interim government in the (BARMM); provided, however, that the President may appoint the eighty new interim members of the BTA who shall serve up to June 30, 2025 or until their successors shall have been elected and qualified,” Section 2 of the harmonized bill read.
The original Senate bill was silent about the appointment of BTA new members by the sitting President or the one to be elected in 2022. The House counterpart originally prescribed that “upon approval” of the law, President Duterte “shall” appoint the BTA members to serve until 2025 since he has the power to recall appointments he made in 2019.
The harmonized bill makes it optional for President Duterte to revamp and appoint fresh members of the 80-seat BTA, the interim ruling body of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), lawyers said.
Minister Sinarimbo, a lawyer, has corroborated Reps. Sinsuat and Mangudadatu’s views that the harmonized bill still reflects the desire of the common leadership of BARMM and the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP).
The UBJP is the political party of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is chaired by interim BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Balawag Ebrahim, as well as key officials of the regional government and some elected leaders in the autonomous region.
The Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) or R.A. 11054 (BARMM Charter) prescribes for observance of MILF’s 41seat in the BTA, with the remaining 39 earmarked for six nominees from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the rest representing sectors including the youth, women, traditional and indigenous people’s communities.
Member of Parliament Omar Yasser Sema once told the Bangsamoro Press Corps (BPC) that the present BTA has actually 10 representatives from the MNLF, including himself.
CM Ebrahim on earlier occasions said either in election or appointment processes, the MILF’s 41 reserved seats in the BTA or regular parliament would always by observed in pursuit of the intent in the BOL and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) for by the MILF with the government in 2014. (AGM)