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Galvez: Duterte agreed to possible extension of Bangsamoro transition period

President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to the possible extension of the Bangsamoro transition period in light of the "difficulties" in achieving normalization in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mandanao (BARMM).

Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. made the remark on Thursday during a meeting of the House Committee on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity.

According to Galvez, the President asked for his opinion on the request of the Bangsamaro Transition Authority (BTA) to extend its term until 2025, or three more years after the transition period is expected to lapse in 2022.

The BTA is serving as the interim government in the BARMM.

In response, Galvez recommended to the President to consider the extension considering that the three-year transition is "a very short time."

"I said to him that being the chief implementer, we saw the difficulty of the implementation of the normalization and the political track," he said.

"So therefore as the OPAPP [chief], I recommended that the request for extension be given due consideration considering that the transition of three years is really a very short time," he added.

Galvez also said that considering that the vaccine against COVID-19 could become available only by June or July next year, the normalization process would be stalled by more than two years.

"If we want this transition to be successful, we have to give our brothers ample time to lay down the foundation and realistically, we cannot achieve this in three years. Kasi pagka nagsimula tayo ng election [in] 2022, ang mangyayari parang ang transition basically na ibinigay natin sa MILF is only one year," he said.

"President Duterte also believed that three years is too short and he agrees for the possible extension," he added.

Through legislation

Sought for comment, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the transition period can be extended through a law.

"Ang payo po ni Presidente kinakailangang batas iyan dahil iyong batas po ng eleksiyon para sa BARMM ay nakapaloob po sa batas," Roque said at a news conference in Quezon.

"So ang sabi niya tutulong siya para maamyendahan ang batas na iyan pero ang kinakailangan talaga makipag-ugnayan ang mga taga-BARMM sa ating mga kongresista at mga senador."

The ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law in 2019 paved the way for the creation of the BARMM and abolished the old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The BARMM includes Cotabato City, 63 barangays in the municipalities of  Aleosan, Carmen, Kabacan, Midsayap, Pigkawayan and Pikit in North Cotabato. It has expanded land and water jurisdiction, fiscal autonomy, increased share in national government resources, among others. — with Virgil Lopez/RSJ, GMA News