Sen. Manny Pacquiao
MANILA — Senator Manny Pacquiao today said he is in favor of allowing the people in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to elect their own leaders by next year.
The lawmaker said that while he voted against the extension of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) for three years, from 2022 to 2025, “this does not mean that I am anti-Muslim nor anti-Mindanao.”
On the contrary, he said, he wants to “fast-track the transition process since the prospects for peace in Mindanao are brighter with the Bangsamoro Organic Law now in place. We must give it a chance to succeed.”
Pacquiao described the creation of the Bangsamoro region as “a new beginning that could spell the end to decades of armed conflict in Muslim Mindanao and bring about genuine self-rule, lasting peace and socio-economic development for its more than 4 million Muslim Filipinos.”
On Monday (September 6), the Senate passed the bill seeking to move to May 2025 the first regular elections in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The polls were originally scheduled for May 2022.
Fifteen senators voted in favor of Senate Bill 2214, while three were against it: Pacquiao, Ralph Recto, and Panfilo Lacson. Senator Imee Marcos abstained from the vote.
The members of the BTA, led by Murad Ebrahim as the first Chief Minister, assumed office on February 22, 2019.
The Bangsamoro parliament had requested that the BTA be extended for an additional three years past 2022 to allow more time for the transition.
Pacquiao said the national government “should extend every possible support to the attainment of the BARMM vision, which is to establish a region that is united, enlightened, self-governing, peaceful, just, morally upright, and progressive.”
The lawmaker, who hails from General Santos City, lamented that “peace and prosperity have eluded Mindanao for many decades already because of armed rebellion.”
”The next administration should demonstrate strong resolve to achieve a durable peace and sustained progress in southern Philippines,” he pointed out.
”Muslim Mindanao deserves to live in peace after decades of armed conflict so that economic development and social progress can proceed in earnest,” he added.
The BARMM seeks to pursue genuine and meaningful autonomy and to create the necessary conditions for enduring peace and sustained socio-economic development in its coverage area that includes the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, six towns in Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays in North Cotabato. (ai/mtvn)