2nd of a series
Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) chief Murad Ebrahin is pushing for the extension of his interim government up to 2025 following the recommendation of the peace advocacy group Mindanao Peoples’ Caucus (MPC) to extend the transition period.
Ebrahim, leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its armed wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, said he was backing the MPC recommendation.
Under the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the BTA, the interim local government body of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, will be dissolved once the new parliament is formed after the first regular elections in the region in 2022.
Ebrahim’s allies in the Parliament have also adopted a resolution on November 17, urging the Senate and House of Representatives to extend the Bangsamoro transition period from 2022 to 2025. Any extension in the BTA’s term would require congressional approval.
A press statement from Ebrahim’s office quoted MP Jose Lorena, one of the principal authors of the resolution, as saying the proposed extension is aimed at providing the BTA sufficient time to continue in performing its powers and functions and complete its mandate.
Also cited in resolution are the calls from the League of Municipalities of the Philippines’ chapter in Tawi-Tawi, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Tawi-Tawi and Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Maguindanao to extend the transition period.
MP Mohagher Iqbal said the proposed extension of the BTA is not self-serving.
“I beg to disagree, ‘yung ibang mga observation, that this is self-serving for our part.
Because first of all hindi naman natin alam na tomorrow, next year or any other day wala na tayo. This is for our people,” Iqbal stressed.
“Just imagine, [after] 17 long years of negotiation, can we implement what has been in the law in just three years?” Iqbal said, noting that the three-year transition is too short, and that the MILF originally pushed for a six-year transition.
“If we do not extend, hilaw po ang implementation ng normalization process [it would be incomplete]. Of course, this is not a blame game. Hindi natin bine-blame ang gobyerno.
Neither are we blaming the MILF because we are already partners, not just in the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law but even in the implementation of the agreement between the government and the MILF. Nararapat lang po na itong resolusyon na ito ipasa natin — not as a self-serving exercise but it is for our people. It is part of our assertion na kailangan talaga kung anong naumpisahan natin dapat po matapos nating mabuti,” Iqbal added.
Iqbal serves as Ebrahim’s deputy in the MILF, which fought a bloody war for decades for the establishment of a separate Islamic state in the South until the rebel group signed a peace deal with the Philippine government in 2014.
Lorena said his basis for passing the resolution is due to Ebrahim’s stand on the need to extend the BTA.
“I stand by our chief minister, when he declared that in the normalization, there is much to be sought off,” Lorena said, referring to Ebrahim’s podcast interview on November 13 with journalist Christian Esguerra on “Press One.”
(To be continued)