North Cotabato guv, church leader favor extension of BARMM transition
The capitol in Cotabato City of the now 24-month Bangsamoro regional government.
John Unson

North Cotabato guv, church leader favor extension of BARMM transition

John Unson (Philstar.com) - January 24, 2021 - 3:50pm

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Catholic Church leader Cardinal Orlando Quevedo and North Cotabato Gov. Nancy Catamco favor an extension of the transition from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to the Bangsamoro self-governing entity.

The more empowered Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao replaced the ARMM only in February 2019, about three weeks after voters in its proposed core territory voted in favor of BARMM’s charter, the Republic Act 11054, through a plebiscite administered by the Commission on Elections.

Catamco, who belongs to North Cotabato’s indigenous non-Moro Obo Manobo community, said Sunday she has willingly endorsed the bid of the BARMM leadership for an extension of the transition process until 2025.

An extension of the transition period shall mean deferment to 2005 of BARMM’s supposed first ever regional elections in 2022.

“I support the request of BARMM’s regional leaders and the members of its interim parliament for an extension of the transition process until 2025,” Catamco said.

Gov. Mamintal Adiong, Jr. of Lanao del Sur and members of the league of mayors in the province, covering 39 towns and more than 90 barangays in its capital, Marawi City, signed last week a manifesto stating their desire for a prolonged ARMM-to-BARMM transition process.

Adiong said the BARMM government needs three more years, from 2022 to 2025, to fully take off and become efficient in the delivery of services to its culturally-pluralistic constituents in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, in the cities of Lamitan, Marawi and Cotabato and in 63 barangays in North Cotabato province.

Catamco told reporters Sunday the 2019 to 2022 transition period is too short for the BARMM to put forward its infant ministries essential to public works, health, social welfare and education services.

“We have 63 barangays in different towns in our province whose residents opted to become under the Bangsamoro region through a plebiscite in 2019. The BARMM government cannot deliver to them sustained quality public service within a short transition stage. A lot of legwork need to be done first,” Catamco said.

Catamco said there is also a need for enough time to decommission combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a major stakeholder in the peace process for which the BARMM was created for.

Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu (Maguindanao) filed last year a bill seeking the deferment of next year’s BARMM regional elections for the ARMM-to-BARMM transition to proceed until 2025 unhampered.

“The COVID-19 pandemic also stymied badly the 2019-2021 transition process. We are praying that the legislature will give its nod to our desire for its three-year extension,” Catamco said.

In a statement last week, Quevedo, a retired bishop of the Cotabato Archdiocese that has parishes in Cotabato City and in Moro-dominated towns in central Mindanao, said holding elections for BARMM elective posts in 2022 can ruin the gains of Malacañang’s peace process with southern Moro communities.

Quevedo is a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate congregation, whose pontifical base is in Rome and has been involved in humanitarian missions in central Mindanao and in the BARMM provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi since the 1930s.

“The constraints of time are simply insurmountable. The BTA (Bangsamoro Transition Authority) will surely not be able to complete its mandate within the period of transition,” Quevedo said, referring to the three-year transition process that started in 2019.

The BTA is comprised of 80 members appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte, comprising BARMM’s interim regional parliament.

Quevedo overtly supported the peace talks between the government and the MILF, whose revolutionary figurehead, Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, also known as Kagui Murad, is now appointed chief minister of BARMM.

The creation of BARMM was premised on two compacts reached by the MILF and Malacañang during 22 years of negotiations — the 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and, subsequently, the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.

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