COTABATO CITY – If the proposed Senate Bill 2214 is passed into law, “there will be equitable distribution of positions in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).”
Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri and Senator Francis Tolentino, sponsor of the bill, made this clarification after receiving concerns from some individuals that the representation of settler communities and other sectors will be removed from the BTA.
Before the plenary debates on Thursday, Senator Zubiri read a text message from some groups telling that Senator Tolentino “removed the representation of settler communities to the transitory government, paving the way for absolute Muslim authority in the region and leaving the Christians without a voice.”
“Mr. President, this is fake news,” Senator Zubiri said after reading the message to his colleagues in the chamber.
“I know the good sponsor (Senator Tolentino) will never do that. I just want to put that on record because I feel bad for him. He is now subject to viral messages and attacks and it is not fair to the gentleman because as a matter of fact it is in his eagerness to show equitable distribution of positions in the interim BTA if we do extend the measure,” he said.
He said that Senator Tolentino included settler communities, Christians, Lumads, women’s organizations, non-government organizations, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), youth, and Ulama.
“The good gentlemen wanted to make sure that it was equitable na hindi lamang po isang province lang ang mauupo dyan sa BTA and sustainable. He wanted to make sure that every district of every province, whether small or large, would be represented, including the Christian settlers,” he said.
Senator Tolentino emphasized that the reserved seats include settler communities.
“Definitely fake news, Mr. President, because if you will scrutinize the transcript of yesterday’s interpellation, I mentioned settler communities more than five times and the bill, as cleaned and amended, will definitely include settler communities,” he reiterated.
Senate Bill 2214 is a substitute bill to SBs 2019 and 2025 introduced by Senator Aquilino Pimentel and Senator Richard Gordon. The measure seeks to postpone the region’s first regular election from 2022 to 2025. (Publication and Media Relations Division, BTA)
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