Sunday Apr, 21 2024 10:40:36 PM

BARMM Chief Minister signs into law bill creating parliamentary districts

BANGSAMORO NEWS UPDATES • 08:30 AM Thu Feb 29, 2024
Edwin O. Fernandez
BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim and BTA Speaker Pangalian Balindong during the ceremonial signing of a bill creating a single-member parliamentary district in the region. (Photo courtesy of BTA)

COTABATO CITY  – Bangsamoro Region Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Balawag Ebrahim signed into law Wednesday night a bill creating parliamentary districts in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Ebrahim and Bangsamoro Transition Authority Speaker Pangalian Balindong led the ceremonial signing of Bangsamoro Autonomy Act (BAA) No. 58 or an “Act Providing for the Creation of Parliamentary Districts in BARMM,” about an hour after the BTA approved on third and final reading the proposed legislation.

“Thank you very much for working hard and working on time; you were able to pass this very important bill,” Ebrahim told parliament members who quickly applauded.

With 47 votes in favor, one no vote, and three abstentions, the act provides for the formal creation of the parliamentary districts in the region.

In a statement, the BTA media said the newly enacted law will serve as the foundational framework for the delineation of the parliamentary districts, aimed at ensuring fair representation for the diverse needs and concerns of the Bangsamoro people.

During public consultations of the bill, local leaders and sector representatives in BARMM’s six provinces, three cities, and the special geographic area have asked lawmakers to add at least one more district each for more representation in the regional body.

But the original bill that sought the creation of 32 single-member parliament districts had prevailed.

The law allows three district representatives to the parliament from Basilan, seven in Sulu, three in Tawi-Tawi, four each in Maguindanao del Norte and del Sur, eight in Lanao del Sur, two in Cotabato City, and one in the Special Geographic Area.

The apportionment of parliamentary districts is based on both population and geographical area, with each district consisting of contiguous, compact, and adjacent areas with a minimum population of 100,000.

Chief Minister Ebrahim reiterated the importance of fair representation, acknowledging the distinct requirements of the Bangsamoro people.

Balindong, a lawyer, supported Ebrahim saying that the creation of 32 single-member parliamentary districts is a bold step toward addressing constituents’ concerns with precision and fairness.

Floor Leader and Committee on Rules Chair Atty. Sha Elijah Dumama-Alba said the law is vital in establishing a parliamentary form of government.

BARMM, comprising six provinces, three cities, 116 municipalities, and 2,590 barangays, is home to over four million residents.

As outlined in the Bangsamoro Electoral Code, the Parliament will consist of 80 members, with 40 seats for party representatives, 32 seats for district representatives, and eight seats for sectoral representatives, each serving a maximum of three years per term.

District representatives will be elected in the 2025 midterm elections through majority votes, requiring voters to be registered in the respective district.

Individuals aspiring to become district representatives must meet specific criteria, including being a registered voter in the said district and having resided in the same area for at least one year.

Government Bill No. 267 was introduced in the plenary last December 18 as one of the Chief Minister’s priority bills. 

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