LGUs in the Philippines

BARMM’s caretakers stay put, wait for Palace to clarify vacancy order

Herbie Gomez

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BARMM’s caretakers stay put, wait for Palace to clarify vacancy order

Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “A Haj Murad” Ebrahim speaks during a news conference on April 23, 2022.

VP Leni Media Bureau

BARMM Speaker Pangalian Balindong issues a memorandum on July 4, directing all members of the region's parliament and other key officials to 'perform their regular duties, as usual'

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Interim officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) are staying put as they wait for Malacañang to clarify a memorandum that declared vacant government positions occupied by appointed officials on the day President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. assumed his post.

Bangsamoro region officials maintain that the June 30 order, signed by Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez, did not apply to BARMM’s interim officials, based on a 2021 law that amended the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) of 2018.

Rodriguez, through Memorandum Circular No. 1, declared vacant “certain positions in the departments, offices, agencies, and bureaus in the executive department…effective noontime of 30 June 2022.”

The memorandum covers the following:

  • All presidential appointees whose appointments are classified as coterminous
  • All presidential appointees occupying positions created in excess of the authorized staffing pattern
  • All non-career executive service officials occupying career executive service positions
  • Contractual or casual government workers

Since it was established in 2019, the BARMM has been run by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) with members all appointed by then-president Rodrigo Duterte. Their terms of office, including that of BARMM interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim’s, were supposed to expire on June 30. 

But a law passed in late 2021 moved the regional elections from 2022 to 2025, extending the mandate of the BTA for three more years.

BARMM Attorney General Sha Elijah Dumama Alba said the BTA, as interim Bangsamoro government, and its members would continue serving in the regional government in the event that Marcos does not exercise the power to appoint.

BARMM Speaker Pangalian Balindong issued Memorandum Order No. 191-2022 on Monday, July 4, directing all members of BARMM’s parliament and those holding key positions in the regional government to “perform their regular duties, as usual.”

Balindong cited the 2021 law, Republic Act No. 11593, and maintained that “all incumbent Members of the BTA Parliament are allowed to continue in office and discharge their official functions, duties, and responsibilities…until June 30, 2025, or until the first Chief Minister has been elected and qualified.”

Balindong, however, added, “This is without prejudice to the constitutionally-granted power of the current President to appoint a new set of BTA Parliament [members] within his term.”

The new law, signed by Duterte in October 2021, amended a provision in the BOL that had provided that the first BARMM elections be synchronized with the May 2022 national elections.

But the amended BOL also empowered the president to appoint 80 members of the BTA after their terms of office expired on June 30. 

The amendment left untouched a clause in the BOL that provided that the BTA should be led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Rappler.com

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Herbie Gomez

Herbie Salvosa Gomez is coordinator of Rappler’s bureau in Mindanao, where he has practiced journalism for over three decades. He writes a column called “Pastilan,” after a familiar expression in Cagayan de Oro, tackling issues in the Southern Philippines.