MANILA — The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) vowed on Tuesday, June 4, to ensure the passage of the remaining priority codes of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) government within the year or before the first BARMM regional election is held on May 2025.

Ali Pangalian Balindong, Bangsamoro Parliament speaker, said the body is determined to fast-track the approval of the two remaining codes — Revenue Code and Indigenous Peoples’ Right — before the conduct of next year’s historic political exercise that will establish a duly-elected regional government.

Legislative achievements and goals

To date, the BTA Parliament has already passed the Bangsamoro Administrative Code, (October 28, 2020); the Bangsamoro Civil Service Code (February 24, 2021); the Bangsamoro Education Code (May 18, 2021); the Bangsamoro Electoral Code (March 9, 2023); and the Bangsamoro Local Governance Code (September 28, 2023).

The BTA’s commitment to completing these legislative tasks underscores its dedication to establishing a robust framework for governance and development in the Bangsamoro region, aiming for a smooth transition to a fully autonomous and democratically elected government by May 2025.

According to Balindong, who, together with other Members of Parliament, met with Presidential Peace Adviser Sec. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr, the BTA has had an “unprecedented” performance, with more than 50 bills passed.

He gave the assurance that the BARMM leadership will make sure that next year’s elections will be orderly, honest and peaceful.

Key legislation

During the meeting, Member of Parliament and Majority Floor Leader Sha Elijah Dumama-Alba, who also serves as minister of the Ministry of Interior and Local Government, gave updates on the legislative body’s major milestones.

These include the enactment of 26 laws since 2022 and the approval of 112 resolutions, with several awaiting further action.

Other significant achievements include the successful conduct of the plebiscite in the BARMM’s Special Geographic Area (SGA) in April of this year, which resulted in the creation of eight municipalities, with a very high voter turnout.

With the passage of five priority codes, the two remaining codes are currently undergoing public consultations and in second reading. The codes are expected to be passed by September or October of this year.

Moreover, the BARMM’s Labor Code is expected to be presented in plenary soon, while the Bangsamoro Agriculture and Fisheries Training Institute bill has successfully hurdled the committee review. The Budget Systems Act is also in the pipeline.

The Ministry of Health also reported ongoing second readings for bills on hospital upgrades, as well as those concerning displaced persons, healthcare workers subsidy, insurance, gender and development, while the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities is now being reviewed at the committee level.

Dumama-Alba stressed that the BTA is working double time to finalize all pending legislation.

Ironclad partnership

The BTA’s meeting with Galvez highlighted the strong collaborative efforts between the national and Bangsamoro governments to address pressing challenges the BARMM is facing.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) Executive Director Jordan S. Bayam reaffirmed the peace agency’s unwavering support to the BTA.

Bayam underscored the importance of continuously building on the BTA’s legacy through its various peace and development initiatives.

Highlighting the BARMM Parliament’s achievements, Bangsamoro Parliament Speaker Atty. Pangalian Balindong reported the passage of 58 legislative measures that aim to improve the delivery of administrative, civil service, education, and local governance services.

Balindong also urged his co-Members of Parliament to focus on the completion of the body’s legislative work and most importantly, uphold their commitment to public service.

Charting BARMM’s future

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has given his administration’s full support for the conduct of the first BARMM parliamentary elections.

The President warned that those who will attempt to disrupt the political process would face legal consequences.

“I also take this opportunity to remind you to exercise your right to suffrage as you chart your political future in the forthcoming first BARMM elections in May 2025,” the President said during his visit to Camp Abubakar in Barira town of Maguindanao del Norte, where he joined the 10th year commemoration of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

“This is the fulfillment of your democratic right to realize and achieve meaningful autonomy as enshrined in the CAB,” President Marcos Jr. said, adding, “Safeguard those rights.”

The President reiterated that the BTA’s transition period will no longer be extended, as he urged BARMM’s citizens to choose their future leaders wisely and to go out and vote.

He also pledged to fulfill the commitments made by the national government under the CAB, as he called on aspiring Bangsamoro leaders to prioritize the region’s well-being (“Bangsamoro muna bago ang sarili”).

Strategic Collaboration

Meanwhile, Galvez emphasized the urgency of enacting the BARMM’s remaining priority legislation to solidify the gains achieved.

“To realize our common vision, I respectfully urge the BTA to expedite the passage of the two remaining priority codes. These codes are not merely legislative instruments; they are vital tools that will pave the way for more effective governance and sustainable development in the region,” he noted.

“As the 2025 BARMM parliamentary elections draw near, addressing key issues that limit the region’s progress is crucial. Rest assured that the OPAPRU stands behind you in this concerted effort. By effectively utilizing all available resources and maximizing available support mechanisms, we can ensure the prompt and effective resolution of critical issues,” he added.

Galvez likewise echoed the sentiments of Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim and President Marcos, urging all parties to prioritize serving the Bangsamoro people.

“The forthcoming BARMM elections represent a watershed moment in the history of the Bangsamoro people. This political exercise is not only critical in ensuring the continued resilience of democracy in the region, but more importantly, sends a clear and strong message that the BARMM government is determined to build on and sustain the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process,” he said. ###