COTABATO CITY— National and regional officials vowed to support efforts to extend the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) in their statements during the Pamanang Bayanihan Regional Series of the Pre-State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in the city on Tuesday.
Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Al-Hadj Murad Ebrahim of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) said the direction of the regional government is clear and the political will of its leadership is strong since the day the President installed the BTA in 2019.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he has told the President that even under normal circumstances, three years for a government transition was too short, as the Bangsamoro Regional Government “started from zero.”
This is apart from the fact that many of the BTA’s current administrators were former revolutionaries and had no prior experience in the fields of bureaucratic governance, Lorenzana added.
“The Direction is clear. The political will is strong and in 2019 this promise of peace was fulfilled; the Bangsamoro Organic Law was ratified. President Duterte has installed the BTA to oversee the creation of a regional bureaucracy that answers to the call of our people and serves as our vehicle towards efficient nation-building,” Ebrahim said.
Lorenzana said because of these factors he supports the extension of the BTA, which under the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) is BARMM’s interim governing mechanism.
Lorenzana said the COVID-19 pandemic added to the delay in the region’s transition.
Cabinet Secretary Carlo Nograles said he believed that the BTA transition period should be extended.
“In Congress the measure can be passed expeditiously. What is most important is that parties understand each other,” Nograles said.
BARMM Interior and Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said he also believed there was still enough time for Congress to pass the measure seeking to extend the BTA term to three more years or up to May 2025.
“We believe Congress can pass the law on time and there’s enough time for it, since the concerned Committee has deliberated on the proposed Bill for thrice already. In reality, all the questions that the lawmakers want answered have already been answered in the House of Representatives,” Sinarimbo said.
Sinarimbo said the deliberation of the proposed BTA extension bill has already been wrapped up with a Committee Report in the Senate.
He said establishing the Bangsamoro Autonomous Government will be long remembered in history as the legacy of President Duterte.
The BARMM leadership was grateful it was given the opportunity to share in a national event the accomplishments of the regional government during the last two-and-a-half years, he said.
“Here stands a chance that officials would be able to include the accomplishments of the BARMM into the President’s report during his last SONA on July 19, 2021,” Sinarimbo added.