Duterte backs extension of Bangsamoro transition, but Palace says coordination with Congress needed

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 26) — President Rodrigo Duterte is supporting the possible extension of the Bangsamoro transition period to three more years after its lapse in 2022, his Cabinet officials confirmed Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez said in separate briefings that Duterte has agreed to the plea of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority to extend the region's transition period to 2025, while the country is in a public health crisis.

Galvez told the House committee on peace, reconciliation, and unity that OPAPP endorsed the request for the extension to Duterte, as the transition of three years "is really a very short time."

He added: "President Duterte also believes that three years is too short and he agrees for the possible extension."

Roque also made the confirmation in his noontime briefing, noting that Duterte will help amend the Bangsamoro Organic Law, but coordination with the legislative branch is still needed before this pushes through.

"Tutulong siya para maamyendahan ito pero kailangang makipag-ugnayan ang BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) officials sa ating mga kongresista at mga senador," he told the media.

[Translation: He will help in amending the law but BARMM officials need to coordinate with congressmen and senators.]

The Bangsamoro Organic Law that was ratified in 2019 abolished the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and replaced it with the BARMM, a new autonomous political entity with more power, including its own parliament. The creation of the BARMM has raised hopes that the Bangsamoro will have a chance at genuine self-governance that it has been fighting for decades.

The BTA recently adopted Resolution 332 urging the House and Senate to extend the transition period to give them more time to put in place the normalization and peace-keeping process.

Bangsamoro Interim Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim — the former Moro rebel leader — previously noted that they still need to set up bureaucracy in the region, implement priority laws, and provide former Moro Islamic Liberation Front combatants with socio-economic development opportunities.

Once Congress agrees to extend the transition period, the schedule of the first parliamentary elections in the region may be moved from 2022 to 2025.

According to BARMM attorney general Sha Elijah Alba, the Bangsamoro Electoral Code is up for approval by the parliament in 2021 as a "priority legislation" to secure the public's right to vote.

The first regular elections for the Bangsamoro Parliament is slated for May 2022, in line with the national and local elections in the Philippines.

CNN Philippines Senior Correspondent David Santos contributed to this report.