PNoy extends life of Bangsamoro Transition Commission

Delon Porcalla, The Philippine Star

Posted at Aug 31 2015 10:48 AM | Updated as of Sep 01 2015 12:09 AM

MANILA - President Aquino has extended the life of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission that he formed in February 2013 and the 15-member body will be disbanded only when Congress ratifies the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

An amendment to Executive Order 120 stated that the commission “shall cease to operate upon the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in a plebiscite called for such purpose,” instead of the previous “enactment” of the BBL by Congress.

“There is a need to further strengthen and expand the functions of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission to address this foreseen gap during the intervening period between the enactment and ratification of the BBL,” Aquino stated.

He said there might be a gap “in the intervening period between enactment and ratification within which neither the commission nor the Bangsamoro Transition Authority will exist to address the issues relevant to BBL.”

Extending the commission’s lifespan, according to Aquino, “can better facilitate an efficient transition upon the ratification of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.”

Aquino appointed in February 2013 the members of the commission headed by MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal.

The body was tasked to draft the basic law for the establishment of a new Bangsamoro region in Mindanao.

The seven government nominees were Akmad Sakkam, Johaira Wahab, Talib Benito, Asani Tammang, Pedrito Eisma, Froilyn Mendoza and Fatmawati Salapuddin.

On the side of the MILF, aside from Iqbal, the members are Robert Alonto, Abdulla Camlian, Ibrahim Ali, Raissa Jajurie, Melanio Ulama, Hussein Munoz and Said Shiek.

The commission was allotted an initial budget of P100 million for its existence.

The transition commission was tasked to draft the law for the Bangsamoro region as provided for in the Framework Agreement that the government and MNLF signed in October 2012.

Aquino issued Executive Order 120 for this purpose, a portion of which reads: “The Commission may sit en banc or constitute itself into divisions, as it may deem necessary for the speedy, effective and efficient performance of its functions.”

In May 2013, the government released P42 million “initial allocation” out of the P100 million that Aquino will allocate for the 15-man Transition Commission tasked to draft the Basic Law that will pave the way for the establishment of a Bangsamoro region.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the P29 million of the initial infusion “has been released as cash” for purposes of complying with the operational requirements needed in facilitating reforms and development in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The P42 million will fund the commission’s requirements for personnel services (P17.03 million) – specifically for 16 appointed officials - and its Maintenance and Other Operating Expenditures (P25 million).

The releases, according to the Department of Budget and Management, were funded against the Miscellaneous and Personnel Benefits Fund under the 2013 General Appropriations Act and the fiscal year 2013 Contingent Fund, respectively.

Abad said the amount requested is part of the P100 million authorized by Aquino to support the operations and personnel requirements of the commission, chargeable against the 2013 Contingent Fund and subject to further evaluation of the DBM.

“The administration has already mobilized the necessary talent and resources to establish the commission and ensure its success in drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” he said. The fund is meant to cover for the commission’s “operational needs.”

“In the long-term, the Transition Commission will play a crucial role in fostering and sustaining peaceful dialogue between the administration and the Bangsamoro,” Abad stressed.

Pursuant to Executive Order 120, the Transition Commission was constituted to draft the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, with provisions consistent with the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

“We are taking the necessary steps toward supporting the realization of a truly united, accountable and participative Bangsamoro, guided by our peace and development agenda for the region,” he said.

“We believe that the fruition of our goal to provide better public services, improved economic development, and more job opportunities for Bangsamoro constituents is already under way,” Abad added.

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