COTABATO CITY – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim has described appeals for the extension of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) as a “call for peace.”
“It is a petition for amity and coherence. The call for extension of the transition period is a call for peace,” he told reporters here in an interview Friday.
Ebrahim’s remarks came after his speech before the BTA session hall on Thursday where he pointed out that the call has been gaining ground among the Bangsamoro people, peace advocates, and the country’s lawmakers.
“Following our productive meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte last Nov. 23, 2020, we have done various meetings, consultations, and dialogues geared towards promoting understanding, ownership, and support to the call for the extension of the transition period,” he said at the regional parliament session.
Ebrahim said the BARMM leadership has also conducted a roundtable discussion with the House of Representatives “to shed light on issues, nuances, and the rationale behind the proposed bills extending the transition period.”
He also told BTA members that he and other regional officials have met leaders of both Senate and House, explaining to them the importance of the proposed extension since this requires amendments to Republic Act 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
“Our local government units in the region and nearby areas have likewise expressed their support through official resolutions,” he said, citing the “yes for extension” position of the provincial governments of Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao, the cities of Marawi and Lamitan, as well as the province of North Cotabato, and Lanao del Norte through its provincial peace and order councils.
Ebrahim specifically mentioned and appreciated the stance of Cardinal Orlando Quevedo who backed the call for extension and various local civil society organizations (CSOs) who manifested their support by initiating successful peace caravans throughout the BARMM that were participated in by thousands of vehicles.
He also noted that the online signature campaign launched by the CSOs garnered more than one million signatures.
Ebrahim, however, cited the need to iron out several issues in the proposed bills, expressing hope that they would be acted upon before Congress ends its regular session in June.
“We are very optimistic that the collective wisdom of the President and Congress will gear towards the complete realization of the most important legacy of this administration – the implementation of the peace agreement and consequent peace in Mindanao,” he said.
Under the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the transition period is only three years from 2019 with an election of BARMM officials also set on May 9, 2022, in time for the next national and local polls.
However, BARMM officials want to skip the scheduled 2022 polls for the region and move it until 2025 to complete transitional programs and projects for the BARMM constituents hampered by the pandemic. (PNA)