President Rodrigo Duterte (MNS photo)

MANILA, May 28 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a bill seeking to divide Maguindanao, part of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), into two provinces.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this announcement in a Palace press briefing on Thursday.

Under the new law, the two new provinces will be called Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur.

The Palace has yet to release an official copy of the new law.

Meanwhile, Roque assured that Duterte listens to all concerns on the proposal to extend the transition period in the BARMM until 2025.

He made this assurance even as the President himself has expressed support of the initiative for the transition.

Roque said Duterte is aware that there are also some who oppose the Bangsamoro Transition Authority’s (BTA) request to extend the transition period.

“Well, of course the President listens to everyone,” Roque said.

However, he noted that it will be up to Congress to act on measures seeking to extend the transition period in the BARMM.

Roque encouraged those who supported or opposed to the extension of the transition period to relay their concerns to both the Senate and House of Representatives.

“The President’s position is that he leaves it to Congress because it is not something that the executive can decide on. So he has been approached by both pro and anti and his consistent advice is: coordinate and talk to the senators and the congressmen,” he added.

The BARMM, an expanded autonomous region created upon the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in January 2019, is the outcome of the decades-long peace negotiation between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Currently, the BARMM is under transition.

During the transition period, the interim Bangsamoro government will identify the new structural framework of the BARMM, taking into consideration the existing structure, budget, and other relevant features of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The region’s BTA will run the affairs of the ARMM until the new set of regular officials is elected in 2022. (MNS)

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