House approves bill postponing Bangsamoro election until 2025

RG Cruz and Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 15 2021 06:53 PM

A resident in Sultan Kudarat casts her vote for the Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite at the Simuay Junction Crossing Elementary School, January 21, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file
A resident in Sultan Kudarat casts her vote for the Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite at the Simuay Junction Crossing Elementary School, January 21, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA — The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on final reading the bill postponing the first regular election of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) until 2025, instead of synchronizing it with the national polls next year.

Voting 187-0-0, lawmakers approved House Bill 10121, which would amend the Bangsamoro Organic Law's provision that sets the region's first election in 2022. 

This, after President Rodrigo Duterte certified the bill as urgent, fast tracking its approval. 

It was only last Monday that the House of Representatives approved the bill on second reading.

The Palace earlier claimed Duterte is "neutral" on calls to extend the Bangsamoro government's transition period.

According to its Congressional fact sheet, the bill will grant the president the power to appoint 80 members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), who will serve up to June 30, 2025 when the incumbent members' terms expire on June 30, 2022.

Last week, the Senate approved on final reading its version of the bill. 

The current BTA, sitting as the region's parliament, has yet to enact its own electoral code, a crucial document needed to govern the supposed elections in May 2022. 

Last January, BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim vowed to finalize its electoral code in the first quarter of 2021, but the document has yet to materialize 8 months away from the May 2022 polls.

The BTA is lobbying to postpone the elections, citing disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but other groups in the region are opposing the move. 

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