Marcos not in favor of another extension for Bangsamoro Transition Authority – Galvez

Rommel Rebollido

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Marcos not in favor of another extension for Bangsamoro Transition Authority – Galvez

Presidential peace adviser Secretary Carlito Galvez talking to (Moro Islamic Liebration Front (MILF) stalwarts during the 10th year commemoration of the CAB peace deal in Darapanan, Maguindanao del Norte.

Rommel Rebollido

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez addresses calls by some civil society organizations seeking another three-year extension for the BTA

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is not in favor of extending the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) by another three years, his chief peace adviser said.

Marcos is firm on pushing through with the scheduled 2025 elections in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), according to Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez.

“No more extension,” Galvez said, saying the six years the BTA was extended is already enough.

Galvez made the remarks during a media briefing after a Grand Iftar, a religious gathering to end the day’s fasting on Wednesday, April 3, in Mother Kabuntalan, Maguindanao del Norte.  

The event was also attended by Ebrahim and other BARMM and Maguindanao del Norte officials.

Galvez was apparently responding to moves by some quarters in the special region to give the BTA another three years, as many provisions in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) have yet to be implemented.

The election of BARMM parliament members in 2025 will lead to the abolition of the BTA, the interim lawmaking body of the special region that was created through the CAB in March 2014.

The elections will allow voters in the region to pick their bets for the first time to serve in the BARMM parliament. The elected parliament members will choose the region’s chief minister through a vote.

Galvez said that during a meeting in Malacañang, the President made it clear that “the elections need to happen to give legitimacy and accountability to officials” who will be chosen by the people.

As such, he said the voter’s registration will be held for the purpose in Darapanan, the MILF camp in Barangay Simuay in Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao del Norte, as agreed earlier with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Amid the campaign for BTA extension by groups identified with incumbent BARMM officials, BARMM Interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim said the President himself told them when they took their oath in Malacanang in 2022, that the extension he then granted “will be the last and there will be no more.”  

Ebrahim said what the President said had always reminded them was to prepare for the 2025 elections. “In keeping with what the President said, we are trying our best to prepare for the elections,” he said.

But Ebrahim, who remains chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that forged the CAB with the government, said the civil society organizations “have a point in seeking for an extension” of the BTA.

Like what thegroups have been pointing out, there are many CAB provisions that remain unimplemented, he said.

He explained that the CAB is in two tracks: the political or legal track which is about the creation of the Bangsamoro as a political entity, and the normalization track that consists of provisions, many of which have yet to be implemented.

The normalization track includes the decommissioning and reintegration of MILF combatants.

In the three occasions of decommissioning, authorities have so far processed 26,132MILF combatants, who gave up 4,625 firearms.

Also, the five-year term for the recruitment of combatants and their dependents into the Philippine National Police is about to end, giving uncertainty to the 7,145 who passed the initial selection process.

There are now around 600 recruits in three batches undergoing police training.

During the 10th year commemoration of the signing of the CAB in Camp Darapanan in Maguindanao del Norte, a representative of the League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO) handed Ebrahim and Galvez a one-page letter to Marcos asking for the BTA extension.

The letter was said to have been signed by 193 CSOs. –

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