President Rodrigo Duterte has approved legislation that moves the election of officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) from 2022 to 2025.
This means the region will be led by appointed, not elected, officials for another three years. It extends the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), but gives the new Philippine president the chance to name new members for the additional three years it will be in power.
Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11593 postponing the BARMM elections on Thursday, October 28, Bangsamoro Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal confirmed to Rappler on Friday, October 29.
The law is an amendment to the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which mandated that the first election for BARMM officials would be synchronized with the national elections in May 2022.
With this new law, the Bangsamoro elections would now be synchronized with the 2025 national elections.
The law also gives the Philippine president the power to appoint 80 members of the BTA once the term of the current BTA members expires on June 30, 2022. Since the new law amends only the part of the BOL related to elections, the provision that the BTA should be “led” by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) stays.
Duterte implemented this provision by naming MILF nominees to more than half of the BTA seats.
The BTA, led by MILF chief Murad Ebrahim, have aggressively pushed for the postponement of elections. They said the transition authority needed more time to implement the BOL, given delays in government programs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The BARMM, with a population of over 4 million people, was established in early 2019 after the BOL was ratified in a plebiscite.
The landmark measure was enacted in 2018, four years after a historic peace deal was signed between the Philippine government and the MILF. – Rappler.com