[Editor’s Note: CBCS Council of Leaders Renewed it’s call to Congress for BTA Term Extension amidst its fast approaching long break or adjournment comes June 4, 2021]
Extension of the term of the BTA or Election in the BARMM in 2022
Which choice will lead us to Peace?
The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) is already 2 years old in its term as a transition government whose main tasks, among others, include the preparation of the legal and organizational requirements for the installation of the regular BARMM government in 2022. The BTA is also tasked to initiate and implement development programs in the region as an affirmative action, rehabilitate communities devastated by wars, integrate former combatants into the mainstream society and to dismantle structures that created violence and to ensure institutional reforms that will prevent the recurrence of hostilities. These are gargantuan tasks to be accomplished within a very limited time. Nevertheless, these tasks are not the sole responsibility of the BTA but also of the national government. This is part of the peace agreement stipulated in the BOL.
A study shows and observations reveal that many of these tasks have not been completely accomplished yet. The organizational, legal and political track had succeeded in many respects but still work is not complete. The normalization phase, which is equally important for peace, has yet to accomplish a lot of its major targets which will be jointly accomplished by the MILF and the national government. The peace infrastructure to maintain peace and security in the region is yet to be completed. Building the mechanism towards healing, reconciliation and conflict transformation as recommended by the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) has barely touched the ground. Transitional justice and reconciliation is very important being the “heart and soul” of the peace process.
Let it be admitted that the process of implementation maybe relatively slow. This is understandable from the perspectives of the work environment of the BTA under a new form of governance as well as the experience of the BTA leadership in running a government. But most especially due to circumstances beyond their control
According to the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the exit agreement of the peace process will be signed if all provisions of the agreement are faithfully accomplished. However, given the many impediments faced by the BTA, the accomplishment of these targets to successfully complete the transition might not happen within the 3-year timespan leading to the national elections of 2022.
Discussion whether the BTA will be allowed to extend its terms pursue its mandate beyond 2022 or hold the elections have snowballed to the level of communities as some elected officials have clearly made their stand.
While we recognize that elections are important part of democratic processes they are not always the solutions to solving peace and security problems.
Fundamentally, the transition is not only from the ARMM to BARMM, from the BTA to regular BARMM, from combatants to ordinary citizens, from presidential form of government to parliamentary but most importantly a transition from social disorder to social cohesion and conflict to peace. It needs flexibility and creativity not to lose sight of its fundamental goal -Peace-. Granting an extension of term for the BTA and the incoming national leaders to conclude their work respectively and jointly under the auspices of the BOL will be the best option to sustain the peace gains. Building the foundation for good governance and remolding the mindset of people from the old practices may take a little while. Since the expectations of people cannot be addressed quickly and at one time because of some unavoidable circumstances, the need for an extension even becomes all the more necessary.
Considering further that the circumstances behind the failure to complete the required tasks of the BTA on one hand and the national government on the other hand are partly beyond their control and the possibility that no exit agreement will be signed, we the Council of Leaders of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) have finally declared our choice for peace by supporting the call for the extension of the term of the BTA.
A new round of working together for a common goal will strengthen confidence building between the national government and the Bangsamoro people on one hand and the Bangsamoro and the rest of the citizens on the other hand.
Let the MILF-led BTA and the incoming national leaders conclude the unfinished business of preparing a regular government that will contribute to peaceful, cohesive, secured and inclusively developed communities in the Bangsamoro.
LET THEM CONTINUE THE TASKS OF BUILDING STRONG SOCIAL COHESION!
Signed by: Council of Leaders – Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS)