The stakes are high for the Bangsamoro Transition Authority tasked to ease the regional government into the ongoing process of political transition, as the scheduled election for the next set of parliament members is expected to commence in May 2022.
“The Bangsamoro can do this. We can do this,” Alamia said of the transition. “If we are united and inclusive, if we consider the rights and welfare of the marginalized sectors, and if we prioritize the needs of the Bangsamoro people in making our decisions, we can meet the high expectations that we have for the regional government.”
“We must live by the principle of placing Bangsamoro beyond the self, and continue to work together in strengthening the regional government,” she added.
In the second episode of the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) ongoing podcast series, #SATINAngEleksyon, Minority Floor Leader Atty.Laisa Masuhud Alamia and Member of Parliament Atty.Rasol Mitmug, Jr. were invited to discuss the history that has shaped the struggle leading to the passage of Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), and the future they envision for the people of the Bangsamoro.
“The status quo was unacceptable, as parties to the peace negotiation have affirmed, and a parliamentary system was pursued to ensure that there is a representative democracy at work,” Alamia said.
The current Bangsamoro regional government is a direct response to the gaps and concerns that former regional governments were not able to resolve, including issues of genuine autonomy and representation. Backed by the overwhelming support of the people during a plebiscite that registered an 85% voter turnout, “every vote is a testament to the people’s desire to affirm their rights and identity as people of the Bangsamoro, rooted in centuries of struggle,” Alamia said.
The Bangsamoro Parliament is currently composed of presidential appointees to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), and this will change upon the conduct of the first regional elections. Out of 80 seats in the parliament, half will then be held by party representatives, while eight seats are reserved for sectoral representatives, with two seats each for non-Moro indigenous peoples and for settler communities, while the ulama, traditional leaders, youth, and women sectors are all assured one seat.
Political parties in the Bangsamoro are expected to offer a stark contrast to those in the national legislature dominated by political elites and personality-driven campaigns and where very few seats are allotted for marginalized groups. The parliamentary system in the region opens up opportunities for better representation and distribution of power in the regional government, which is fitting in a region known for strong grassroots movements and diverse advocacy groups.
But before the electoral process can begin, the BTA must make sure that the regional government’s bureaucracy is in place while facilitating the passage of priority legislation that are enumerated in the BOL, including the Bangsamoro Administrative Code that was passed recently by the parliament. Deliberations on the Bangsamoro Education Code, Civil Service Code, and Local Government Code are ongoing, while the Electoral Code is now being reviewed by the Cabinet.
Apart from these codes, the parliament is also working on legislation that will affirm and protect the rights of vulnerable sectors in the Bangsamoro.
Introduced by MP Alamia, the Internally Displaced Persons’ Rights and Protection Bill is yet to be taken up in the Bangsamoro Parliament. This bill is crucial given the context of the BARMM, given the sheer number of IDPs in the region who are yet to receive long-term support and assistance leading to their return or resettlement and reintegration. This ties into the objectives of another bill that she hopes to pass, which focuses on transitional justice and reconciliation. Alamia believes the measure can institutionalize policies and programs that ensure social protections for those who have been affected by armed conflict in the region.
MP Alamia also hopes that the parliament will pass a bill establishing a Women’s Caucus in the Bangsamoro Parliament which will amplify women’s voices and respond to their needs, including those of transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming women in the region.