Support is growing to extend the transition deadline of the newly-created Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) from 2022 to 2025, buoying hopes of an orderly transition into peace and prosperity in a land that has suffered from six decades of hostilities.
Thousands of people from Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte joined a long procession over the weekend in what reports described as “the longest peace caravan in Marawi City.”
The convoy – an unprecedented 9,404 vehicles strong – was organized by civil society groups calling themselves the Ranaw Confederation for Peace, One Bangsamoro Movement, Moro Ako, and the Coalition of Moro Youth Movement.
It began its route in Marawi City and then proceeded to Camp Overton in Iligan City; Sultan Naga Dimaporo in Lanao del Norte; Malabang, Ganassi, and Masui in Lanao del Sur; and back to Marawi City.
A smaller, but no less impassioned “peace caravan and rally” was earlier held in Jolo, Sulu.
Online reports quote BARMM Parliament Deputy Speaker Omar Sema as saying that the extension would “grant both parties (the BARMM and the national government) to comply with their obligations under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro particularly in the process of normalization.”
Musa Sanguila, regional coordinator of the United Religions Initiative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said such a three-year reprieve will enable concerned parties enough leeway “to (prepare to) join mainstream society.”
For his part, Archie Buaya, a member of the pro-extension group Insider Mediators and an advocate for indigenous peoples, said his support reflects his concern for the various sectors within the BARMM.
Last week, noted Islamic scholar Moner Bajunaid said, “2025 is only fair considering the short time it requires them to accomplish (their tasks) including the question of normalization.”
The former Chancellor of the Mindanao State University in Gen. Santos City added that with the shift of the former Muslim combatants “from a revolutionary group to a new democratic leadership, the group needs an (ample) period for the transformation.”
Many other supporters of the extension have included society’s Who’s Who, including governors, legislators, even a Catholic prelate, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, who had issued a statement endorsing the extension.
At least five separate bills calling for the transition period’s extension have been filed in Congress.Some 15,000 signatures were solicited during the Marawi caravan in support of the transition’s extension. A similar petition that began on February 10 is likewise circulating online and has breached the 1,000,000-mark. SOVEREIGNPH