MANILA – The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading the bill seeking to reset the first regular elections in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) with a vote of 15-3-1.
Senate Bill No. 2214, sponsored by Local Government Committee Chairman Francis Tolentino, proposes to move the date of the BARMM elections from May 2022 to May 2025, synchronized with the national elections. It amends Section 13, Article XVI of Republic Act 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
In his sponsorship speech, Tolentino said despite the hard work and the accomplishments of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the global pandemic posed significant challenges to the execution of the priority programs and projects of the Bangsamoro government.
After holding committee hearings and consultation with stakeholders, Tolentino said his committee saw the need to extend the BARMM transition period to implement the political and normalization efforts embodied in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
"However, it (the committee) is also mindful of the Bangsamoro people's right to assert their democracy in the said region and exercise their right of suffrage. Although the BTA has considerably delivered some of its mandates under the BOL, there is much work yet to be done," Tolentino added.
Under the bill, upon the expiration of the terms of the incumbent members of the BTA, the President shall appoint 80 members of BTA who will serve up to June 30, 2025 or until the election of their successors.
"This piece of legislation is a testament to our continued efforts to maintain peace and push for inclusive growth in the BARMM region. Peace is elusive but it is attainable," Tolentino said.
In the House of Representatives, the Committees on Suffrages and Electoral Reform, Muslim Affairs, and Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, approved last week a committee report that consolidated proposals to extend the BARMM elections. (PR)