THE PROPOSED three-year postponement of the 2022 election for 80 parliament members in the Bangsamoro region was approved on second reading at the House of Representatives on Thursday, a day after a counterpart bill was similarly passed by the Senate.
With 39 ‘yes’ votes, 4 ‘no’, and 0 abstention, three House committees — Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, Muslim Affairs, and Peace, Reconciliation and Unity — jointly approved moving the parliamentary elections to 2025.
Similar to the Senate version, the House bill also maintains the term of the current members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) to June 30, 2022 or until the new Philippine president who will be elected in May next year appoints the new set of members.
The current BTA, whose members were appointed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, serve as parliament members under the transition period of the new region.
Maguindanao Representative Datu Roonie Q. Sinsuat, Sr. emphasized during the joint committee deliberations the urgency of the bill as the election period nears.
“The main issue is the postponement of elections,” he said, adding that all other “peripheral issues” such as the normalization stage of the peace process could be tackled through other venues.
The Senate voted on the bill 18-1-2, with Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, Sr. the only one giving a ‘no’ vote, while Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto and Senator María Imelda Josefa “Imee” R. Marcos abstained.
Senator Francis N. Tolentino, chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government and the principal sponsor of the bill, said in a statement that the approval will ensure the swift implementation of the political and normalization tracks that were agreed upon during the peace talks between the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. — Marifi S. Jara and Alyssa Nicole O. Tan