In the first two months of the new year, residents in the territory of what was once the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and then from its adjoining territories, took part in a two-part plebiscite to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which would provide for the establishment of a new autonomous region replacing the ARMM. A majority 88.57% of voters said “Yes” to the ratification of the BOL, essentially bringing the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region into being. The next step was the appointment of a transitional authority to oversee the region until formal elections are held. This 80-person council will be sworn in before President Rodrigo Duterte this Friday.
As reported by ABS-CBN News, The Bangsamoro Transition Authority members took their oath of office before President Duterte on the afternoon of February 22. This event took place shortly after a ceremonial confirmation of the results from the two plebiscites for the Bangsamoro Organic Law, held last January 21 and February 6. The 80 authority members were treated to a welcome dinner hosted by government officials earlier this week, in a historic gathering that was attended by leadership figures of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), now no longer hostile.
While no names of specific members of the BTA have been revealed to the public, it has been stated that the 80-person council will be comprised of members of the government and the MILF, the latter now transitioning into something of a more political role within the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region as its governmental infrastructure is established. The BTA will govern Bangsamoro for a transition period lasting three years, until the first formal elections for government positions in the region coincides with the 2022 Presidential Elections. The numbers stand at 41 MILF representatives and 39 Philippine government officials in the council.
The next step for the BTA in the near future is to hold elections within their body for the Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro, as well as the various ministers of the 15 departments in the regional government. Already the MILF delegates are excited at this impending exercise. Peace Panel leader Mohaquer Iqbal frankly admits that their organization has not entirely been trained in governance, but are willing to learn on the job as it were, as well as listen to both their veteran government official counterparts and the people living in Bangsamoro, the better to answer their pressing needs.
Powers of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority are executive and legislative in scope. They will also have exclusive powers over budget, agriculture, justice, human rights, health, education, social services and tourism.
Image courtesy of Rappler