Senate approves bill resetting BARMM elections

Robie de Guzman   •   September 6, 2021   •   240

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.

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.

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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