MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman on Monday said it is likely that the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao's (BARMM) first regular elections next year would be postponed after legislative measures pushing for it have hurdled both chambers of Congress.
The Senate last week ratified the reconciled version of the bills seeking to postpone the BARMM elections until 2025, leaving the measure up for Duterte's approval.
"All I know is that both houses have passed it, so there is no impediment for it to become law. It becomes law if the President does not sign it within a certain number number of days," said the President's spokesman Harry Roque.
"Sa akin po, wala na pong gusot 'yan. I think the elections will really be postponed, and the members of the BARMM will be appointed by the President," he said in a press briefing.
(For me, there's no more problem.)
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.
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 establishment of the BARMM and its government fulfills major provisions of the 2014 peace accord of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the national government, fostering hopes for an end to the cycle of violence in the southern Philippines.
The BARMM is considered to adequately address the historical and socio-political roots of the nearly decades-long Muslim insurgency in the country.