MANILA - Bangsamoro authorities on Friday said they were looking at the first quarter of the year to finish remaining priority codes, as it marked the second anniversary of the ratification of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim said the parliament has approved the administrative code and that three other codes—electoral, local government, and civil service—are now at the committee level.
“We are hoping that within the first quarter of 2021, these codes will be passed and then the 2 other codes are still under final discussion, final review for the cabinet. It will also be passed within the first quarter of the year. That is our priority,” said Ebrahim.
On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte led the second anniversary of the commemoration of the establishment of the Muslim-led Bangsamoro region. Duterte said he gave marching orders to relevant agencies to give full support to BARMM through continued assistance.
“The second priority is because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have practically changed our focus in the government that is why many of our activities in the political aspect were refocused to our addressing the challenges of the COVID-19,” said Ebrahim in an interview on ANC’s Headstart.
Currently, BARMM is hiring new employees through its job portal. So far, around 70 percent of the posts have been filled up. He said the hiring of new workers was disrupted by the pandemic.
“We have 4,000 jobs in the portal and now we already hired about 70 percent, so roughly about more than 200 [are] still not yet hired,” he said.
Ebrahim said that they have also completed the budget deliberation where the bulk would go to education, medical and health services and facilities, social services, and infrastructure projects.
He also said that there is still a lot of work to be done as several issues have to discussed in the Intergovernmental Relations Body (IGRB).
“The IGRB is the mechanism wherein we discuss how the national agencies will be able to assist the Bangsamoro ministries in the delivery of services. So we still have a lot of discussions to be made in the IGRB. But I think about 80 percent of the task of the IGRB were already almost completed but we still need some 20 to 30 percent [that] is still to be subject for discussion,” he said.
The Bangsamoro Transition Authority led by Ebrahim will govern until elections in 2022 for an 80-seat legislature, which will choose a chief minister.
“One challenge we are facing now is the electoral code is still under discussion in the parliament,” he said. There are also combatants facing cases and they would want this resolved first as they push for the normalization track.
The body is seeking an extension of the region’s transition period due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which deprived them of time to carry out programs and services.
“As of now, there are already 5 bills filed in the lower house. We're still waiting for the counter bill that will be filed in the Senate,” said Ebrahim.
He added that they already talked with members of both houses of Congress regarding the matter and were given assured support.
“Extension of the period does not need additional funding because we already have the block grant that is regularly being downloaded to us,” he said.
Of the 5 bills, 4 he said are acceptable to them except the one filed by Lanao del Norte Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo.
“Doon sa kaniyang bill he still moved for the election in 2022. Kung ‘di daw matapos after 2022 'yung normalization saka i-extend ito into 2028,” said Ebrahim.
(He still moved for an election in 2022. If the normalization track is not yet completed after 2022 then it would be extended to 2028.)
But he said it doesn’t work like that for them as their focus would be redirected to the elections starting October.
“Mawawala 'yung focus namin ngayon sa services to our people. Gusto natin ma-continue services namin and then implementation of the normalization na hindi na ma-affected ng election,” he said.
(We will lose our focus on providing services to our people. We want to continue our services and then the implementation of the normalization without being affected by the election.)
He said they are only asking that the parliamentary elections be moved to 2025.