President Duterte neutral on BTA extension
BARMM Chief Minister Ebrahim says BTA ought to be extended; Sulu Governor Tan says otherwise
MANILA – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque today said the second meeting between opposing parties for the extension of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority took place last Thursday where they met President Rodrigo Duterte.
He said the Chief Executive met with the contending parties regarding the BTA’s possible extension as it is provided for in law that all elective officials of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority will be named during the scheduled election next year.
“President Duterte arrived at a decision after listening to the contending parties, to let Congress to decide and pass a law extending the term of office of appointed officials,” he said.
Secretary Roque said President Duterte has been convinced of the convictions of both parties so he would just allow the Congress to pass the needed law for the BTA’s extension.
Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan said they oppose any extension of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority by another three years because it would run contrary to law.
“The Bangsamoro Organic Law says the term of the BTA would only be three years and the three years would end in 2022 and that elections would be synchronized with the national and local elections,” Governor Tan said. He explained they are not against the BARMM or the MILF and that they simply want those in power should have a clear mandate from the people.
Even local government officials have their mandate and they will seek elective office in 2022 while those in the executive can go beyond three years because they occupy appointive positions.
“It would be awkward for the BARMM officials to govern sans any mandate or may be requesting us or ordering us to assist them,” Governor Tan said.
He said he will support the BARMM set-up however, it would be more appropriate for the MILF to receive their mandate from the people through the coming elections. He made it clear he would bring the case to the Supreme Court should the government goes ahead with the postponement.
On the other hand, Chief Minister Ibrahim said three years is indeed a short time for them to restructure the government.
“Because it is the structure of the government, is parliamentary ministerial under a presidential unitary system it would be difficult,” he said. He added there was a delay in the BARMM budget because all the money there was from the ARMM has been obligated or committed to projects and programs.
“And in 2020, as we were beginning to perform, COVID-19 pandemic struck so instead of doing what we’re supposed to do, we had to attend to the pandemic,” he explained and instead of attending to the two tracks, one of which is the setting up of the government while the other is the normalization.
During the meeting last June 16, it was learned President Duterte instructed them to convene the council of leaders with the end in view of having a united stand and last June 23, they met at the Grand Hyatt Ballroom where provincial Governors were also in attendance.
Of those who attended 11 out of 17, ten support the idea of the BTA term extension during the meeting last June 23. The next day, another private meeting with the President took place and later they met with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
Governor Tan said he would go to the Supreme Court should they, in the executive and legislative agree to postpone the political exercise. (Melo M. Acuña)
BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim (left) and Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan (right). (Screen grab from Presidential Press Briefing hosted by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque)