Duterte to listen to MILF on BTA appointments

Duterte to listen to MILF on BTA appointments

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte will consider appointing a new set of Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) members based on nominations from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this assurance after Duterte signed Republic Act (RA) 11593, a law that moves the election of officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) from 2022 to 2025.

“Well, ang appointment po talaga ng 80-man (the appointment of the 80-man) BARMM members is according to the law passed by Congress to be made by the President. So, antayin na lang po natin ang desisyon ng Presidente. Pero siyempre po hindi naman po pupuwedeng sabihin na balewala ang magiging boses ng MILF (So, let us wait for the decision of the President. Of course, they cannot ignore the voice of the MILF),” he said in a Palace press briefing.

Roque also expressed confidence that the provision that the BTA should be led by the MILF stays.

“Sigurado naman po ako mayorya ng mga ma-a-appoint ng Presidente ay manggagaling pa rin sa hanay ng MILF. Bagamat mayron din po yang appointees ang ating gobyerno (I am sure that the majority of those who will be appointed by the President will still come from the ranks of the MILF. Although our government also has appointees),” he added.

RA 11593 is an amendment to the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which mandated that the first election for BARMM officials would be synchronized with the national elections in May 2022.

Under the new law, the Bangsamoro elections would now be synchronized with the 2025 national elections.

During the extension of the transition period, the BTA will continue to serve as the BARMM interim government.

However, the new law allows the President to appoint the 80 new interim members of the BTA who will serve until June 30, 2025 or until the election of their successors.

The BTA, led by Interim Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim, has pushed for the extension of the BTA’s term to give it more time to finish its task in restructuring the Bangsamoro government given delays in government programs caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ebrahim earlier thanked Duterte for signing the extension law, saying it will ensure “that the government-MILF Peace Process will be successful.”

“The call towards extending the transition period speaks the collective desire of the Bangsamoro people in making sure that we have a strong regional bureaucracy that can address our decades-long challenges and make sure that a brighter future awaits them,” he said.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the government and MILF, signed in March 2014, allowed the creation of the BARMM in 2019.

Currently, the BARMM is under a transition period.

During the transition period, the interim Bangsamoro government will identify the new structural framework of the BARMM, taking into consideration the existing structure, budget, and other relevant features of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. (PNA)

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