COTABATO CITY — The Bangsamoro Parliament on Tuesday, August 17, approved on third and final reading the bill mandating all ministries, agencies, local government units, offices, and institutions in the Bangsamoro region to adopt the dual use of the Hijri and Gregorian calendars in their conduct of business.

“This is considered as landmark legislation because this is now an epitome of our exercise to our right to self-determination,” Deputy Speaker Atty. Omar Yasser Sema, principal author of the bill, said in an interview.

According to Sema, the measure’s passage supports the Bangsamoro Transition Authority’s (BTA) continued quest for ‘meaningful autonomy.’

“Our issue on autonomy in the Bangsamoro has been there for 50 years already, and this is the first time that we have acted upon the primacy of the predominant way of life in the region, the Islamic way of life and the culture,” Sema added.

All members of the Parliament (MPs) voted for the passage of BTA Bill No. 87, also known as the “Bangsamoro Dual Calendar Act of 2021”. None of the members voted against nor abstained.

The Hijri calendar, commonly known as the Islamic calendar, is used to determine Islamic months, while the Gregorian calendar refers to the solar dating system used by most countries.

The dual use of the calendars shall reflect on the government’s formal correspondences like memorandum and office order. In writing such documents, the Hijri calendar will take precedence over the Gregorian.

“The Islamic calendar holds an immense importance in every Muslim’s life; it holds a much deeper religious and historical meaning,” Baintan Ampatuan, one of the co-authors, said.

In BARMM, said calendars would determine the dates of Islamic holidays and observances, notably the migration of Prophet Muhammad from Makkah to Madinah in the month of Rabi Al-Awwal.

“All the historical events in the Islamic history that are dated in the Islamic calendar serve as a reminder of the sacrifices made in the way of Islam, specifically during the time of Prophet Muhammad,” she added.

The legislation also intends to inspire the younger generation in the region to learn more about Islamic history and culture.

“We are also empowering the Darul-Ifta…we hope that with this law, they would be empowered technically and be empowered as an office,” Sema stated.

As the implementing agency, the Bangsamoro Darul-Ifta is expected to uphold the legislative measure’s requirements with the utmost integrity, efficiency, responsibility, and accountability.

Its initial operations would get P10 million, which will be used to publish Islamic calendars and procure equipment for moon sighting. (Publication and Media Relations Division)