Bangsamoro gov’t thanks Aquino admin for peace efforts in Mindanao

Robie de Guzman   •   June 25, 2021   •   413

The government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) said it is “forever grateful” to the administration of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III for its efforts to promote peace in Mindanao as it expressed sadness over the demise of the former leader.

“The Bangsamoro Government joins the entire country in mourning the death of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino who passed away today, June 24,” BARMM chief minister Ahod Ebrahim said in a statement.

“We are forever grateful for his administration’s efforts in revitalizing the peace talks and their help in laying the groundwork for lasting peace in Mindanao,” he added.

Ebrahim said Aquino played a vital role in the Bangsamoro peace process and remembered his administration’s sincerity when they met in Narita, Japan on August 4, 2011 for peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“Because of the confidence by both parties in the peace process during his term, we saw the eventual signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro – documents that would pave way to the foundations of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” he said.

The peace pact, which was seen as the solution to the decades-long Muslim insurgency in Mindanao, was regarded as among Aquino’s legacy during his presidency from 2010 to 2016.

Ebrahim also remembered Aquino’s “commitment to fight corruption and just like his parents, his unwavering commitment to democracy.”

Noynoy is the son of Philippine democracy icons, former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino and former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino.

He served as the 15th President of the Philippines from 2010 to 2016.

He passed away in his sleep on Thursday morning due to renal disease secondary to diabetes, his family said.

“Our thoughts go out to his family, friends, and to the rest of the country during this difficult loss,” Ebrahim said.

Senate approves bill resetting BARMM elections

Robie de Guzman   •   September 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Monday approved on final reading a bill seeking to reset the first regular elections in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Voting 15-3-1, senators approved Senate Bill No. 2214, which proposes to move the date of the BARMM elections from May 2022 to May 2025, synchronized with the national elections.

The measure amends Section 13, Article XVI of Republic Act 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

Senator Francis Tolentino, chair of the local government committee and sponsor of the bill, said they 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.

He noted that despite 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.

“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 Bangsamoro Organic Law, there is much work yet to be done,” Tolentino said in a statement.

The bill states that 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.

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

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.

Valte explains ‘overpriced’ PPE procured by Aquino admin

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Former deputy spokesperson of the Aquino administration, Abigail Valte, on Friday (September 3) explained the previous administration’s acquisition of personal protective equipment (PPE) in 2016.

This is amid Presidential Harry Roque Jr.’s statement that the PPE sets procured during the Aquino administration were more expensive despite not having any pandemic and did not go under proper bidding.

In a Facebook post, Valte said that the procurement dated June 23, 2016, underwent proper bidding and the PPE sets are not a regular kind as they also include hazmat suits. The purchase order also included specifications and warranties.

The 3,750 PPE sets that cost P3,864 each included goggles, gloves, plastic shoe covers, coveralls, surgical gloves, N95 face masks, surgical masks, and head caps.

“I heard people are looking for the specs of the PPE sets procured via PO dated June 23, 2016, so here you go. Note that I intentionally cropped the signatories out of Page 3 to avoid exposing their signatures to fraudsters,” she said.

A Senate investigation is currently ongoing for the Duterte administration’s procurement of allegedly overpriced PPE sets. -AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

NBI nabs one for human trafficking in Cotabato City

Marje Pelayo   •   August 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (NBI-BARMM) on Tuesday (August 24) announced the arrest of an individual in an entrapment operation in Cotabato City for human trafficking.

Authorities identified the suspect as Bai Sofia Tuas.

According to NBI Officer-in-Charge and Director Eric Distor, the operation stemmed from an information received by the NBI-BARMM regarding the alleged proliferation of human trafficking activities in Cotabato City.

The NBI-BARMM immediately conducted a validation of the information which revealed the alias “Bea” or alias “Pia” as one of the perpetrators.

After two weeks, the NBI was able to establish communication with Tuas and came to an agreement that the latter would provide nine female sex workers for P5,000 each.

Tuas agreed to undercover agents to meet at a hotel in Cotabato City where the female sex workers will be brought.

On August 18, agents from the NBI along with representatives from the Ministry of Social Welfare and Development of BARMM proceeded to the vicinity of the agreed meeting place.

Tuas then informed the undercover agent that they were already inside the hotel room.

After the undercover agents handed over the marked money as payment for the sex workers, they immediately signaled other operatives that the transaction has been done, prompting them to apprehend the suspect and rescue the nine trafficked victims.

Tuas was presented for inquest proceedings before the City Prosecutor’s Office of Cotabato City for violation of R.A. 9208 as amended by R.A. 10364.

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