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.