MANILA — The fate of the Philippines’ bid for a seat in the United Nations (UN) Security Council in 2027 will ride on the outcome of the first regular elections of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in 2025, the government’s peace adviser said Wednesday.
Sec. Carlito Galvez of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU) looks at the elections - a key milestone in the years-long transition to a more empowered self-governing region — as the “biggest challenge” to the BARMM’s legitimacy.
He said the directive to ensure the elections be peaceful came from President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
“Very critical moment, we can say that. We have to accomplish, in order to have that vision, we need to have a very peaceful first BARMM election in 2025. Very tall order po, kaya nga nagdo-double time tayo. Lahat ng kailangan natin na fundamental legislation, kailangan matapos ‘yon,” Galvez told reporters at a media forum in Manila.
In his address to the UN General Assembly last November, Marcos said the “success” of the Philippine government’s peace efforts in the southern region could “enrich” the UN Security Council’s work.
Galvez said the Bangsamoro has been seen overseas as a “living model” of success in long, enduring negotiation and preventing conflict escalation.
Seventeen years of negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with occasional clashes led to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in 2014, which paved the way for the Bangsamoro Organic Law establishing the BARMM in 2019.
“We are now getting the fruits of the labor that we had. At nakikita natin maganda ang nangyayari sa Bangsamoro,” Galvez said.
“Gusto niya [Marcos Jr.] na makita ng ibang bansa—at ng ibang mga nangyayari katulad ng sa Ukraine at sa Russia--na pwede namang pag-usapan ‘yong mga issues and we can be able to prevent ‘yong tinatawag nating open confrontations with our tropa by having continuous dialogue as a method and also understanding the dynamics of conflict.”
Currently led by a transition authority parliament, the BARMM was set to hold its first regular elections in 2022 but was moved to 2025.
Bangsamoro government officials cited delays in their programs and plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic in asking for the poll postponement.
Marcos previously said the elections would no longer be postponed again.
Galvez earlier said the Bangsamoro government will legislate an electoral code this year, but now said it could be passed within the first quarter of 2023 along with a local government code.
The peace adviser added terrorism, political divisions, and political interests undermining the national interest were among the threats to lasting peace in the region.
“Ang panawagan ko lang, dapat lahat doon sa Bangsamoro, in order for us to succeed, dapat maging very realistic tayo. In order to prevent ‘yong tinatawag nating continuous conflict ay kailangan magkaroon ng unity among ourselves,” Galvez said.