Local leaders to pledge honest, peaceful elections

PASIG CITY (1 NOVEMBER 2021) — Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. lauded President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for signing of Republic Act 11593 which postpones next year’s Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) elections.

In effect, the transition period of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), which ends in 2022, has been extended to 2025.

The said law was officially signed by President Duterte on October 28, Thursday as confirmed by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. It is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 2214 and House Bill 10121, which were passed by the Senate of the Philippines and House of Representatives on September 27 and September 21, respectively.

Despite extensive and sometimes heated deliberations in the chambers of Congress and in the Senate over the proposal to extend the BTA’s transition period, Galvez noted that the “spirit of unity among our legislators and their desire to ensure the welfare of the Bangsamoro people still prevailed – embodying the true spirit of reconciliation.

“We extend our deepest gratitude to President Duterte, the House of Representatives, and the Senate of the Philippines for helping to move forward the Bangsamoro peace process, and laying the foundations wherein long-lasting peace and sustainable development can firmly take root and flourish in the region,” he said.

Sec. 2 of the RA 11593 provides that during the extension of the transition period, the BTA shall continue to act as the interim government of the BARMM.

The President may, however, appoint 80 new interim members of the BTA who shall serve up to June 30, 2025, or until their successors shall have been elected.

More time to strengthen governance structures

According to Galvez, the postponement of the first regional parliamentary elections in the Bangsamoro region will give the BARMM government the time it needs “to lay the foundations and complete all necessary processes that are crucial for an inclusive, people-centered and accountable bureaucracy to fully transition, and deliver on its commitments to the Bangsamoro people.”

“We believe this development will enable both the GPH and the MILF Peace Implementing Panels to continue the implementation of the normalization and the political tracks of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which were temporarily pushed back due to challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Galvez said he is confident that the extension period will enable the BTA Parliament to enact priority codes as provided in the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

“This will allow the BARMM government to effectively fulfill its task of addressing the needs of the Bangsamoro people while promoting the ideals of genuine autonomy as envisioned in the BOL,” he noted.

The presidential adviser also urged all sectors of society to continue supporting the Bangsamoro interim government during the crucial period of transition.

“We enjoin the Bangsamoro people, the Filipino nation, and the international peace community to continue supporting the BTA during this crucial transition period,” Galvez said.

“This will allow us to realize our collective vision of achieving genuine autonomy that truly reflects the ideals and aspirations of our Moro brothers and sisters,” he added.

Honest, orderly elections in the BARMM

In a press briefing during the event of the National Task Force on Disbandment of Private Armed Groups held in General Santos City on October 29, Galvez bared that a meeting was held in Malacañang between President Duterte, national and BARMM officials, and local chief executives.

“In the said meeting, the parties agreed to support the BTA during the extended transition period as well as the postponement of the 2022 BARMM regional elections and moving it to 2025,” he said.

During the meeting, which was held in Malacanang last October 26, President Duterte emphasized his vision for the Bangsamoro region, saying that before he steps down from office, he wants to leave behind a legacy of enduring and sustainable peace in Mindanao.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, who read the agreements made by the parties during the meeting, said the BARMM BTA will not be involved in the upcoming elections directly or indirectly.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana encouraged the parties to reach a “win-win” solution to bring down the level of tension in the BARMM.

He called on local leaders to support the legacy of President Duterte and his administration in establishing a more resilient and peaceful Mindanao.

Lorenzana said the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines fully supports the peace process in Mindanao.

For his part, Interior and Local Government Secretary Sec. Eduardo Año emphasized the need to address and settle disputes at the local level.

He said the Philippine National Police has been assisting local leaders to resolve situations of conflict in the region.

Galvez said the parties also pledged to help ensure the conduct of honest, free, orderly, and peaceful elections in 2022, and will not carry out any act that will adversely affect the political exercise.

“The BARMM BTA likewise committed not to be involved in the May 2022 elections directly or indirectly, while the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police shall adhere to their commitment of observing professionalism, impartiality, and non-partisan politics in the May 2022 elections and shall commit to the implementation of this Covenant,” he added.

Galvez said a covenant signing will be held in Malacañang wherein all parties will formalize the commitments they have made to ensure the successful conduct of the 2022 elections. ###