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Nograles and Lorenzana are in support of extending the BTA

In a joint statement released on Tuesday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles and Secretary Delfin Lorenzana of the Department of National Defense (DND) voiced their support for an extension of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority’s (BTA) mandate for an additional three years.

The two Cabinet officials appeared as guests during the 10th leg of the β€œKasama sa Pamana: Regional Pre-SONA Series,” which took place in the Philippines.

As for the Bangsamoro Organic Law, Nograles said that, realistically, another law should be passed by Congress to amend the existing Bangsamoro Organic Law. He added that they would refrain from commenting on the issue because President Rodrigo R. Duterte has stated that Congress should handle the matter.

Lorenzana, on the other hand, said that the extension would provide the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) ample time to achieve a real and effective transition from 2022 to the year 2025.

It was noted that the Department of National Defense and the national government are dedicated to cooperating with the Bangsamoro administration, and that he would “support all efforts and initiatives for the welfare and well-being of the people of the BARMM.”

Bangsamoro authorities had previously said that the three-year transition time from 2019 to 2022 would not be sufficient to achieve the region’s goals owing to the pandemic outbreak.

Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim of the BARMM said that the President’s pledge of peace was realized in 2019, which resulted in the ratification of the BOL.

“Above all, the Duterte administration has been unparalleled and persistent in bringing the Bangsamoro cause to the national stage, enabling the Filipino people to understand the history of our fight as well as the need of restoring peace to Mindanao,” Ebrahim said in a video statement.

‘The transition authority is loyal to the President’s goal of creating a special Bangsamoro country inside the Philippine Republic,’ he added. “The President’s desire is that there may be an unique Bangsamoro nation within the Philippine Republic.”

Specifically stated in the BOL, the BTA, which serves as the interim lawmaking body of the BARMM, will ensure the completion of priorities, which include the enactment of the region’s administrative and revenue codes as well as the region’s electoral, local government, educational, and civil service codes.

To far, however, the 80-member BTA has only succeeded in passing legislation establishing the region’s administrative, educational, and civil service regulations.

Other high-priority bills include the determination of parliamentary districts for the first regular election of members of the parliament; the organization of the Bangsamoro government’s bureaucracy during the transition; and the full transfer of powers and properties from the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), among others.

Pangalian Balindong, the Speaker of the BTA, said that the organization is working tirelessly to finish the transition and ensure that the new government has all it needs to further develop the area.

He said that the parliament will debate the remaining priority codes, such as those pertaining to local government, elections, and income, during its third regular session, which would be held in November.

In all, 125 bills and 474 resolutions have been introduced in the House of Commons. Parliament accepted 145 of the proposed resolutions out of a total of 474 that were put forth.

The area’s interior minister, lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, said the BARMM has achieved great progress in creating a stronger autonomous region while also delivering important projects to its people during a presentation during the pre-SONA activities on Thursday, March 22.

Among other things, Sinarimbo added, “it involves creating the bureaucracy in BARMM and developing the roadmap that is linked to the region’s 12-point priority agenda.”

Over the region’s five provinces, he added, the regional administration has built 250 barangay halls as well as 11 municipal halls, four municipal police stations, and nine water systems.

Approximately 1,073 kilometers of roads, 114 bridges, 201 flood-control projects, 385 water systems, 94 seaports, and 16 other infrastructure projects will be completed by the end of the year, according to the minister.

“I am the happiest person on the planet, second only to the President, when it comes to working for the success of the Bangsamoro,” Lorenzana remarked.

With the assistance of Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., he promised to visit the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and discuss the normalization track of the Bangsamoro peace process, specifically interventions aimed at improving the lives of decommissioned Moro Islamic Liberation Front combatants, their families, and other members of their communities.

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