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Senate OKs on third reading bill resetting BARMM elections

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).

Fifteen senators voted in favor of the bill, three voted no, while one senator abstained.

Senate Bill 2214 proposes to move the date of the BARMM elections from May 2022 to May 2025, synchronized with the national elections. The bill seeks to amend Section 13, Article XVI of Republic Act 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

Under the bill, upon the expiration of the terms of the incumbent members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the President shall appoint 80 members of BTA who will serve up to June 30, 2025 or until the election of their successors.

In his sponsorship speech, Senator Francis Tolentino, committee on local government chairman, said despite the hard work and the accomplishments of the BTA, the global pandemic posed significant challenges to the execution of the priority programs and projects of the Bangsamoro government.

He said after holding committee hearings and consultation with stakeholders, the committee saw the need to extend the BARMM transition period in order 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.

The senator said the bill is a testament to the Senate’s continued efforts to maintain peace and push for inclusive growth in the BARMM region.

“Peace is elusive but it is attainable,” Tolentino said.

Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senators Richard Gordon, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, and Risa Hontiveros are also co-authors of the bill.

Last week, the House committees on suffrages and electoral reform, muslim affairs, and peace, reconciliation and unity approved a committee report that consolidated proposals to extend the BARMM elections.—AOL, GMA News