Governor says Sulu people do not want Bangsamoro elections postponed

Published January 24, 2021, 2:50 PM

by Nonoy Lacson

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The   people   of   Sulu   is against   the   postponement   of elections in  the   Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), and the extension of the elective  term of the current Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) officials.

Sulu Governor Abdusdakur Tan (Photo via Nonoy Lacson/ MANILA BULLETIN FILE)

This was disclosed by Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan, who said  that he informed   members of the Suffrage   Committee   of   the   House   of Representatives during   a  Zoom   meeting on Wednesday, January 20,    that the people of Sulu was against the postponement of the exercise to a much later date.

A similar statement was also sent  by Tan to President Duterte, informing him that the people of Sulu were against the postponement of the elections in the BARMM.

The first regular election for the officials of the BARMM was set by the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) or R.A.  11054, to synchronize   with   the May   2022   national elections.  

The   region   is   presently governed   by   the   BTA  whose   officials   were
appointed   by   the   President.    

Five     bills   have   been   filed   at   the   House   of Representatives, calling for the postponement of the BARMM elections to 2025, and the extension of the terms of office of the BTA officials.

Tan said any postponement of the BARMM elections and
the subsequent extension on the term of the BTA will only deprive the   BARMM   people   of   the “opportunity to prove, once and for all, that they can sufficiently and responsibly
govern themselves.

The Sulu governor also claimed that the BTA was just using  the proposed postponement as a “sorry excuse” for its failure to set up the political and legislative infrastructure  of BARMM, and to   effect a smooth transition.  

Of   the   six   priority   legislative   codes mandated by the BOL, the BTA, was able to enact only  one measure, the   Bangsamoro   Administrative   Code.  

Five   more  legislative codes, including the BARMM election code, were still in various stages of enactment.

Tan said  the BTA  still has ample time — 18 months – to pass  the other
crucial   laws,     if  the   BTA   sincerely   wants   the     region  to   grow   and develop.

Furthermore, he said the BTA cannot use the absence of the BARMM election code as a
reason to delay the elections, as the BOL itself mandates in  Section 13, Article XVI.

Another Section of the BOL provides that until the prescribed priority codes are enacted by the BTA, the ARMM Local Government Code or Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 25 and substituting laws on elections should be applied.

Tan said, of 600 personnel of various national agencies, whose items were devolved to the BARMM, only 64 have been appointed and the rest were terminated, resulting in the  non-payment of salaries and anxiety among the affected personnel.

He also decried the imbalance in the release of the BARMM funds, informing
the Committee that the bulk of the P 65-billion Block Grant stipulated in the BOL has already been released to the BTA.

However, he added, Sulu was able to received only a meager P5 million for the provincial government, and P 1 million each for every municipality, despite the crisis caused by the pandemic. 

Tan lamented that  “Sulu does not feel the presence of the BARMM”, considering that no BTA officials have ever visited Sulu and that the current pandemic was being used as an excuse by these officials.