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Bill postponing first BARMM polls to 2025 reaches Senate plenary

A bill seeking to postpone the first regular elections in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) from 2022 to 2025 has reached the Senate plenary Thursday.

“The global pandemic we are facing have posed significant challenges on the accomplishment of the priority programs and projects of the BTA (Bangsamoro Transition Authority), as it has for the national government as a whole," Senate Local Government Committee chairman Francis Tolentino said.

“Despite all these strides, the BTA has yet to complete all its tasks under the BOL (Bangsamoro Organic Law). Thus, we are faced with the question of the propriety of extending the BTA term,” Tolentino added in his sponsorship of Senate Bill 2214.

Considering the positions of various stakeholders, the senator said there is a need to extend the BARMM transition period to implement the provisions stipulated under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

He pointed out that the government must also be mindful of its “impact to 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 so much work yet to be done. The extension of the transition period, if enacted, does not, in any way, condone even the slightest, littlest inefficiency in public service,” Tolentino said.

“As public servants, we must always work to ensure that we inspire confidence and patriotic hope especially to those residing in the Bangsamoro region,” he added.

Tolentino said the measure is meant to maintain peach and push for inclusive growth in the BARMM.

“Peace is elusive but it is attainable. I ask my colleagues in this august chamber to support this measure extending the term of the BTA, not the personalities involved, but the institution,” he ended.

Last week, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez said his office and the entire Duterte Cabinet support the extension of the BARMM transition period.—LDF, GMA News