URGENT BILLS. Lawyer Lanang Ali, majority floor leader of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao parliament, says during a press conference Tuesday (Oct. 22, 2019) that they are focusing on seven priority bills needed for the smooth transition of the region’s bureaucracy. The BARMM priority legislations include the administrative code, Indigenous Peoples code, internal revenue code, civil service code, education, local government, creation of offices, and electoral code. (Photo by PNA Cotabato)

COTABATO CITY -- Members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) are working on the passage of seven regional bills to outline the setting up of the fledging regional bureaucracy.

Lawyer Lanang Ali Jr., majority floor leader of the BTA - Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), said that priority legislations include the administrative code, Indigenous Peoples code, internal revenue code, civil service code, education, local government, creation of offices, and electoral code.

“These priority bills would shape up the course of the region during its infancy stage,” Ali said during a press conference Tuesday referring to the new BARMM entity established earlier this year.

He said appropriate parliament committees should be set up for the purpose before the end of this year pending the release of the estimated PHP70-billion block grant allotted for the region in 2020.

“The BTA is also hurrying up the passage of the Regional Appropriations Act that would set up the allotment for the BARMM offices,” Ali said.

Asked on what is least prioritized among the bills, the official said that would be the election code.

“Elections are still very far. There are more important matters to attend to at present,” he said.

Ali said a technical working group is also working double- time for the smooth turnover of 63 North Cotabato villages to the BARMM jurisdiction.

The 63 villages, all Muslim-majority areas in six North Cotabato towns, voted for inclusion to the BARMM during the plebiscite in February this year.

“We are just waiting for the official turnover ceremony schedule that is being discussed by BARMM with the office of Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año,” he said.

Earlier, he said the 80-member BTA thumbed down a bill filed by BARMM parliament member Romeo Sema suggesting that Cotabato City be the official seat of BARMM, citing that no official turnover of the city to the new region has taken place yet.

“Not yet until an official turnover of the city takes place.

Timing is necessary,” he said. Residents of this city also opted to join BARMM in January this year as a segment of the two-part plebiscite held on Jan. 21 and Feb. 6 for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law that paved the way for the establishment of the Bangsamoro political entity.

Other parts of BARMM comprise areas under the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that are the cities of Marawi and Lamitan, and the provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Lanao del Sur. (PNA)