President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday called on the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) to pass key legislation and to pave the way for elections in 2025.
During the ceremonial opening of the session of the BTA parliament in Cotabato City, the President said the passage of measures would benefit people in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
“To deliver our commitments to the people of BARMM, I urge you to pass all the crucial legislation on fiscal policy–particularly taxation and to facilitate the conduct of the elections in the BARMM in 2025,” the President said.
“I also encourage the BTA to pass measures that will secure the welfare of the Moro people, particularly in agri fishery, health care, transportation, communication, digital infrastructure, and e-governance,” he added.
The President lauded the BTA for its gains as three of the seven priority codes, such as the administrative, civil service, and education, have already been approved. The first parliament, which served from BTA 2019 to 2022, had also enacted 31 bills and adopted 263 resolutions.
“You have already a long list of achievements starting with the approval of the Bangsamoro Transition Plan, the passage of the most important legislation such as the administrative code, the civil service code, the education code – these are cornerstones of BARMM moral self-governance,” he said.
The Chief Executive also thanked everyone who came to Bangsamoro to support the peace process and spent time, energy, and money to make this new political entity a reality.
“The diverse representation now of the BTA speaks volumes of your answer towards that call for unity, of shared responsibility, and the invitation to advocate peace and development in the Bangsamoro region,” he added.
“As we go on and we formalize the structure and institutionalize the functions of the Bangsamoro government, we will see that those efficiencies will come in and what we had celebrated today and at the very beginning of the existence of the BARMM, what we had celebrated, we will now look upon as only a glimpse of what will happen in the future,” Marcos said.
Marcos said his administration would provide “full and unwavering commitment to the peace process and to BARMM.”
In his speech during the inauguration of the BTA 2022-2025, BARMM Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim said the final phase of the decommissioning process for the remaining Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants would take place this month.
“The peace implementing panels of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government of the Philippines are scheduled to hold the decommissioning ceremony for the remaining 5,500 former MILF combatants and putting 2,400 firearms beyond use on Sept. 28, 2022, the final phase of the third phase of the decommissioning process,” Ebrahim said.
The decommissioning process of MILF combatants is covered under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) forged between the government and the MILF in 2014.
The Second Parliament of the BTA unanimously re-elected lawyer and member of Parliament Pangalian Balindong Sr. as speaker.
MP Omar Yasser Crisostomo Sema, a member of the majority caucus, said 79 members out of 80 members voted to re-elect Balindong as speaker of Second BTA Parliament.
Balindong is a lifetime member of the Philippine Constitutional Association (Philconsa), having been elected to the 1971 Constitutional Convention. More recently, President Rodrigo Duterte appointed him as member of the Constitutional Commission, under former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, tasked to review and make recommendations on a plan then to amend the 1987 Constitution.
He had been speaker of the First Regional Legislative Assembly on a shared term with the late Tawi-Tawi Assemblyman Esmael Abubakar Jr.