MANILA — A measure seeking to postpone until 2025 the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao's (BARMM) first regular elections is now up for President Rodrigo Duterte's approval after both houses of Congress ratified its final version.
The development comes 3 days before the filing of the certificates of candidacy begins on Oct. 1.
On Monday, the Senate via majority vote adopted and ratified the reconciled version of House Bill 10121 and Senate Bill 2214 approved by the bicameral conference committee last week.
The House of Representatives ratified the same report last Sept. 21.
Under the reconciled bill, the landmark Bangsamoro Organic Law would be amended to indicate that the region's first regular elections would be in 2025, instead of 2022.
Without an enabling law, the BARMM election will proceed.
A provision of the bill says the President may appoint a new set interim officials of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority or the region's parliament.
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.
BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim earlier vowed to finalize the region's 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 lobbied to postpone the elections, citing disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but other groups in the region are opposing the move.
The bill is now expected to be transmitted to Malacañang for Duterte's approval or veto.
Duterte is expected to sign the measure into law after he certified as urgent the House bill on the postponement.
His position was a departure from the Palace's earlier pronouncement that Duterte was "neutral" on the extension of BTA's term.