Sulu guv says constituents don't want Bangsamoro polls postponed

Sulu guv says constituents don't want Bangsamoro polls postponed

MANILA, Philippines — The people of Sulu does not approve of proposals to postpone the first elections for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the provincial governor claimed.

According to Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan, delaying the elections — and effectively extending the tenure of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) — would only result in the delay of the people’s exercise of their right to suffrage.

Tan lso sent a memorandum to President Rodrigo Duterte detailing why they do not want the postponement of the polls.

Several bills have been filed before the House of Representatives to postpone the elections, which should be held by 2022, to 2025.  Proponents believe that the short transition period coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic is not enough to realize the comprehensive agreement.

In a meeting before the House suffrage committee last Wednesday, Tan said that he believes an election would fix problems in the BARMM — like the supposed underperformance of the BTA.

“Para po sa amin — number one, Sulu voted against inclusion in the BARMM Region […] I think true enough so many people especially here in our province now realized that what we did was really true kasi medyo hindi po nagperform ang BARRM, in fact we have so many offices that are empty,” Tan said.

“Now, up to now, out of about 600 vacancies, they have only appointed 64 […] Now we always hear about the pandemic, it has become a very convenient excuse for this failure,” he added.

Tan also highlighted that with the 2022 presidential elections, there is a possibility of a new administration relieving BTA officials because they are merely appointed.  Such things, he said, would not occur if those in the BARMM posts are elected and have the mandate of the people.

“The 2022 elections is forthcoming, and there is going to be a change of administration, what if the new administration would remove you from office because you do not have any mandate?  You are appointed.  How would you react?” Tan asked.

“Dapat they submit themselves to the people in an election, that is going to be in 2022 because that is what the law says.  The law says that they should participate in the synchronized elections in 2022, and prior to the enactment, Congress consulted the people if they want it […] and after which there was a plebiscite,” he added.

As of now, there are five bills seeking to extend the BTA’s term, but Tan believes that the BTA can actually accomplish the things they need to do with the remaining time, largely because it would still be around 18 months before the May 2022 elections.

“The first regular election for the Bangsamoro Government under this Organic Law shall be held and synchronized with the 2022 national elections,” he stressed.