Cotabato City now formally part of Bangsamoro region

Robie de Guzman   •   December 15, 2020   •   796

The supervision of Cotabato City has been formally turned over to the Bangsamoro government on Tuesday, almost two years since its residents voted for its inclusion in the region.

The turnover ceremony was led by Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and Philippine National Police chief General Debold Sinas.

Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim earlier welcomed the city, which previously opposed its inclusion in the Bangsamoro region.

“We are committed to upscaling services that can further boost the potential of Cotabato City, unique with its own context and in support to its existing resources,” Ebrahim said in a statement released last December 12.

He also said that the plebiscite held in January 2019 for the city’s inclusion “revealed the will of the majority of the people in Cotabato City.”

“Through this process, they democratically signified their desire to join the rest of the region in our shared quest for lasting peace, development and right to self-determination,” Ebrahim added.

Cotabato City will be the region’s third city, along with Lamitan City in Basilan, and Lanao del Sur’s capital Marawi City.

It has been the regional administrative seat of the replaced Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), yet it had not been part of the region due to its non-inclusion vote during the plebiscites in 1989 and 2001.

However, on January 21, 2019, a majority of 36,682 residents of Cotabato City voted in favor of joining the newly formed BARMM, signifying a new hope for a more progressive region.

Japan pledges food aid to Bangsamoro farmers, fisherfolks

Robie de Guzman   •   November 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The government of Japan has committed to provide 350 million yen in food assistance to farmers, fisherfolks, and other vulnerable sectors in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), its embassy in Manila said Thursday.

In a statement, the embassy said the grant aid will be implemented by the World Food Programme (WFP), which will procure approximately 1,788 metric tons of Japanese rice for distribution to beneficiaries.

The project seeks to support around 9,877 farming and fishing households, including decommissioned combatants and indigenous peoples in Bangsamoro.

“To supplement the food and nutrition needs of the targeted population, the Japanese rice will be fortified with iron prior to distribution,” the embassy said.

“Through this undertaking, vulnerable and conflict-affected communities in BARMM are expected to have improved food security, resilience, and livelihood, which will enhance peace and achieve development in the Region,” it added.

The food aid project for BARMM was signed between Japanese Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko and WFP Representative and Country Director Brenda Barton.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., Foreign Affairs Acting Secretary Theresa Lazaro and BARMM Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform Deputy Minister Ammal Solaiman also witnessed the event.

Duterte OKs postponement of Bangsamoro elections

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the law resetting the 2022 elections in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to 2025, Malacañang said Friday.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte signed the Republic Act 11593 on Oct. 28.

“Pinirmahan ni Presidente Rodrigo Roa Duterte ang Republic Act # 11593 kahapon, October 28, 2021, na nagri-reset po ng eleksyon sa Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao sa 2025,” Roque said.

The law amended the Bangsamoro Organic Law and stated that BARMM’s first regular elections shall be held and synchronized with the 2025 elections.

“Sang-ayon po sa batas na ito, binibigyan ng kapangyarihan ang ating Presidente na mag-appoint ng hanggang walumpu or 80 new interim members of the BTA who shall serve until June 30, 2025 or until their successors shall have been elected and qualified,” Roque said.

The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) will oversee the region until the 2025 polls.

The BTA is a provisional law-making body of the BARMM which is currently under a transition phase.

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.

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