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Moro leaders welcome Senate approval resetting BARMM elections to 2025

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BARMM Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo, the regional government’s spokesperson, said Tuesday the Bangsamoro government is thankful to the Senate for responding positively to the clamors to defer the elections to 2025.

COTABATO CITY, PHILIPPINES

Moro leaders welcomed the approval Monday on third and final reading of Senate Bill 2214, resetting to 2025 next year’s elections in the Bangsamoro region.

The Senate, voting 15-3-1 to pass the bill, seeks to reset the first regular elections of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). It amends Section 13 of Article XVI of the Bangsamoro Organic Law or Republic Act 11054.

Sen. Francis Tolentino, author of the bill, said postponing the regional elections would give BARMM officials the needed time to pursue the stalled development programs and projects due to the pandemic.

“The postponement of the 2022 BARMM elections is imminent. That is essential to putting an end to this decades-old Moro strife in the Southern Philippines,“ Gerry Salapuddin, Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA) administrator, said Tuesday.

A former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) official thrice wounded in encounters with state forces in the 1970s, Salapuddin, who hails from Basilan, said the BARMM government needs ample time to restore normalcy in its core territory, wracked by decades of armed conflicts.

“It is tedious work that can’t be done overnight. We are, thus, thankful to the Senate for approving on 3rd reading the Senate Bill 2214,” Salapuddin said.

BARMM Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo, the regional government’s spokesperson, said Tuesday the Bangsamoro government is thankful to the Senate for responding positively to the clamors to defer the elections to 2025.

“That is a big boost to efforts on reintroducing to mainstream society thousands of former Moro guerillas who fought for the creation of this BARMM that we now have,” Sinarimbo said.

The BARMM is a product of 22 years of peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, whose chairman, Hadji Ahod Ebrahim, is an appointed chief minister of the Bangsamoro region.

The largest and most politically-active group in the MNLF, the one led by former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema, is supporting the multi-sector bid for the postponement of next year’s BARMM polls.

The MNLF, which forged a final peace pact with Malacañang on September 2, 1996, or 23 years before BARMM was created as a concession to the MILF, wants the enactment first by the Bangsamoro interim parliament of a regional election code prior any regional polls.

BARMM has a parliamentary form of government.

“We need to have our own regional election law first and the postponement of the 2022 BARMM elections will give the regional parliament enough time to process and pass that code into law in preparation for the 2025 exercise,” Sema said. (John Felix Unson)

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