Duterte "neutral" on BTA extension; Murad to run for Bangsamoro parliament if transition period not extended
President Rodrigo Duterte is taking a "neutral" stance on the call of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority to extend by another three years its term in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Malacanang said on Monday.
"The President decided to become neutral and will let Congress to fully discuss the matter and to decide accordingly, respecting the plenary powers and wisdom of Congress," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing.
Duterte recently met with the BTA members led by Chief Minister Ahod "Al Haj Murad" Ebrahim to discuss the latter's proposal to suspend BARMM election next year and instead extend the transition period to 2025.
Roque said Duterte understands that both the BTA and those opposing to prolong the transition period have their respective points.
"On the part of those who want deferment or extension of the transition, according to them, it's difficult to have an election because there's no Omnibus Election Code in BARMM and there's no law yet for re-districting," he said.
While those who have been pushing for the BARMM polls next year, simultaneous with the national and local elections, he said the President understands their concern that there is a need that those who will lead the region have the mandate of all the political leaders so that they have the "moral authority to lead."
Ebrahim, who was present in the online press briefing, insisted the importance of extending the BTA term as the latter has still may things to accomplish as embodied in the peace deal between the government and the then secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Asked if he will run for a post in the event that elections push through next year," Ebrahim said, "then we will be also running for the position of Parliament Member."
He epxlained that those who will vote for the Chief Minister are the elected Parliament Members.
"So, I will still be opting to run as member of the parliament," he said.
Sulu Governor Abudusakur Tan, in the same online press briefing, said he was pushing for the election in BARMM next year instead of extending the BTA because it is important that those who will lead the region have the mandate.
"It would be very awkward for the BARMM officials to be governing without any mandate and may be requesting us to assist them. We, at the local government, we have our mandate, and if ever we will be submitting ourselves to the people in an election in 2022 as well as those government entities or officials in government offices/national offices, they have mandates because they occpy appointive positions," he said.
He said his opposition to the BTA extension was not because he did not like BARMM nor the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Murad is also the chairman of the MILF.
Tan vowed to support the MILF members who will run for the parliament in next year's polls.
He said in the event Congress will pass a law extending the transition period, "I will challenge it before the Supreme Court because I prefer to have an election in order for the leadership of BARMM to be stronger and more durable." Celerina Monte/DMS