Bangsamoro in transition: so who took their oath as BTA members?

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UPDATED (list corrected) 

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /24 February) — Something awful happened on the way to the oathtaking ceremonies of the 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) last Friday.

While the Palace guests billeted at the Manila Prince Hotel were busy preparing to leave for Malacanang at noon, word had gone around that only the nominees of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) would take their oath as the government’s supposed “final list” was not final after all.

Ten names were reportedly stricken off the supposed “final list” that morning, barely four hours from their supposed 2 p.m. call time in Malacanang for the 4;30 p.m. program with President Rodrigo Duterte.

Batch 1 for photo with the President: 26 members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority who took their oath of office at the Rizal Hall in Malacanang on 22 February 2019. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

At the end of the day, only 76, according to Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, were able to take their oath.

Galvez on Saturday told MindaNews he had no copy of the final list of those whose appointment papers had been signed. “I do not have the list. It should come from Malacanang,” he said.

As of Sunday noon, Malacanang has not released the names of the new appointees.

It is not clear if the President has signed all the appointment papers of the 80 members or only 76 or 72.

MindaNews checked the BTA appointees’ souvenir photographs with President Rodrigo Duterte — done in three batches — and counted 72 who took their oath: 26 in Batch 1, 25 in Batch 2 and 21 in Batch 3.

The photographs per batch have a total of 10 women who took their oath: four in Batch 1, three each in Batches 2 and 3.

On Sunday, when MindaNews told him only 72 BTA members were able to take their oath based on the photographs with the President and validated by MindaNews with the BTA members themselves, Galvez replied: “based on our latest coordination with OP (Office of the President), we have 76. The remaining (four) will be filled up by OP. Honestly speaking, the 80 is already filled. We are just completing the vetting process and clearance procedures.”

Batch 2 for photo with the President: 25 members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority who took their oath of office at the Rizal Hall in Malacanang on 22 February 2019. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Galvez said “hindi nakahabol ang clearances” (the clearances were not submitted on time) for the oathttaking.

Asked if these “clearances” referred to the “replacements,” he replied: “no comment.”
He maintained 76 had taken their oath.

“Honest, sincere, competent”

Last month, Galvez told MindaNews that they set a “very rigid criteria” for the selection of the 80-member BTA, according to the President’s guidance “to get only honest, sincere and competent people to ensure that good governance will be in place.”

“We are respectfully requesting both the MILF and the MNLF that they should put their best people who could effectively, efficiently and conscientiously run the Bangsamoro government… Our desire and intent is to recommend the appointment by the President of only those true public servants who will place common good, public interest and people’s welfare above all things,” he said.

The names of the appointees were not announced ahead of the oathtaking, unlike the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) whose members were named on February 10, 2017 and who took their oath of office at the launch of the BTC on February 24, 2017 in Davao City.

In the case of the BTA, the nominees who had been informed that they made it to the short list and the supposed “final list,” declined to accept greetings of “congratulations.”

“Huwag muna, until talagang final na” (Not yet until it’s really final), was a common reply of those who were reportedly on the list of 39.

Under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and its enabling law, RA 11054 or the Organic Act for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the MILF will lead the BTA, the body that will govern the BARMM until June 30, 2022 when its first set of officials shall have been elected and had taken their oath.

Batch 3 for photo with the President: 21 members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority who took their oath of office at the Rizal Hall in Malacanang on 22 February 2019. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

The MILF nominated 41 members to the BTA while government nominated 39.

Galvez had in fact called for a meeting of the 39 at the Manila Prince hotel on Wednesday, February 20, the supposed oathtaking day. The event had been rescheduled by Malacanang to February 22, giving the 39 time to get to know each other during Wednesday’s four-hour-and-thirty minute introductory meeting and briefing on the role of the BTA.

But those who attended told MindaNews that Galvez was frank enough to say they were on the list as of that day.

Dress code but no word on appointment

On Thursday afternoon, one of the nominees told MindaNews they were sent via SMS guidelines, including the dress code the following day in Malacanag “but no official word that we have been appointed.”

One of the reminders was that they would enter Gate 4 starting at 2 p.m. and should be seated at 3 p.m. for the event scheduled at 4:30 p.m. with the President

On Friday morning, at 10:24 a.m. the 39 government nominees on the supposed “final list” received urgent text messages from the staff of Galvez for an 11 a.m. meeting at the Manila Prince Hotel, with venue still to be announced

The meeting, MindaNews later learned, was where the announcement was supposed to be made on the names that had been stricken off the list. The embarrassment that this would cause the nominees and their families, however, prompted the cancellation of that meeting. Instead, Galvez and other officials from his office sought each of those who were stricken off the list to personally break the bad news.

Members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the body that will govern the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao until June 30, 2022 take their oath before President Rodrigo Duterte at the Rizal Hall of Malacanang on 22 February 2019.MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

One of them was already inside a vehicle bound for Malacanang when he received a call not to proceed. Having been stricken off the list meant he could not enter Malacanang as he was no longer on the guest list of the Palace.

Others were preparing to dress up in their hotel rooms when they received a knock on their doors.

MindaNews learned that those who were taken out of government’s “final list” that Friday morning would have been assets in the BTA given their work experiences and track records. Also taken out was the supposed second representative for the IPs and the supposed second representative for the settler communities.

“Intense lobbying” from people in power reportedly led to last minute changes as allegations of “dilawan” (yellows) were hurled at the supposed appointees. At least two were dropped from the “final list,” according to MindaNews sources, because of objections from a member of the Cabinet whose clan is a political rival of their families.

At the Rizal Hall that afternoon, government nominees initially got confused but later realized that some of those they had listened to during the introductory meeting two days earlier, were not around. But there were three new – though familiar – faces who were going to take oath with them.

Galvez last Friday declined to comment on the 10 supposed appointees who were dropped from the list that morning but President Duterte told reporters after the oath-taking that he was late for because “may hinabol sila na late. May in-exchange” (They were trying to include some people. They exchanged.’’

The President was not referring to Galvez’ office but to the OP.

Who took their oath?

So who were sworn into office last Friday?

Since neither the OP nor Galvez’ office has released the names, MindaNews listed 72 based on the MILF’s list, and for the government nominees, based on the photographs as well as the validation of the BTA members themselves.

Seventy-two is 40 from the MILF’s 41 nominees and 32 from the government’s 39.

MILF NOMINEES

Of the 41 nominated by the MILF Central Committee and appointed by the President, only one was unable to take her oath – writer Bai Maleiha Candao, daughter of the first ARMM Governor, Zacaria Candao – as she was recuperating from an ailment.

The list of 41 nominees of the MILF was sent to MindaNews by MILF chair Murad, classified into MILF Central Committee members, Front Commanders, Traditional Leaders. MindaNews put under one category all the women nominees, for easier reference.

MILF CENTRAL COMMITTEE MEMBERS
1. Ebrahim, Al Haj Murad. Chair. Appointed Interim Chief Minister, BTA. From Maguindanao
2, Jaafar, Ghazali B. 1st Vice chair; Chair of the now defunct Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). From Magindanao
3. Solaiman, Ali B. 2nd Vice Chair. From Lanao del Sur
4. Iqbal, Mohagher M. Chair, Peace Implementing Panel. BTC Commissioner. From Maguindanao
5. Macacua, Abdulraof A. Chief of Staff of the soon-to-be decommissioned Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF). BTC Commissioner. From Maguindanao
6. Ali, Ibrahim D. BTC Commissioner
7. Abas, Haron M. BTC Commissioner
8. Bato, Zainuddin
9. Gayak, Abdullah E.
10. Guerra, Eduard U. Chair, Committee on Foreign Affairs, MILF Central Committee and concurrent chair of the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC) on the MILF side
11. Mantawil, Malik A.
12. Munoz, Hussein P. BTC Commissioner
13. Pacasem, Ubaida C.
14. Pak, Abdulwahab
15. Salendab, Said Z.
16. Salik, Ali O.
17. Shiek, Said M. BTC Commissioner
18. Yacob, Mohammad S.

FRONT COMMANDERS, BANGSAMORO ISLAMIC ARMED FORCES
19. Abas, Akmad I. 
aka Kumander Jack, Eastern Mindanao Front
20. Abbas, Basit Sarip
21. Esmael, Abdulazdis M.
22. Macapaar, Abdullah Y. aka Kumander Bravo. North Western Mindanao Front
23. Oranon, Suwaib L.

POLITICAL COMMITTEES
24. Ahang, Abdullah. Political Committee, Tawi-tawi
25. Ali, Cezar. Political Committee, Sulu
26. Zapantun, Hamza, Provincial Chairman, Basilan

WOMEN
27. Asmawil, Muslima A. Entrepreneur. From Basilan
28. Candao, Maleiha B. Writer. From Maguindanao (appointed but was not able to attend oathtaking)
29. Jajurie, Raissa H. Lawyer. Member of the legal panel of the MILF peace panel. BTC Commissioner. From Sulu, Cotabato
30. Karon, Bainon. Chair, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Bangsamoro Women. From Maguindanao
31. Silongan, Aida M. MILF social welfare committee. From Maguindanao

TRADITIONAL LEADERS
32. Balindong, Pangalian. Former Representative. Member of now defunct Constitutional Commission. From Lanao del Sur
33. Mastura, Tocao O. Former Mayor of Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao
34. Midtimbang, Midpantao

YOUTH
35. Ali, Lanang Jr., Lawyer. From Maguindanao
36. Macasalong, Marjanie S. From Lanao del Sur

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
37. Ulama, Timuay Melanio. BTC Commissioner. From Upi, Maguindanao

SETTLER COMMUNITIES
38. Ekey, Narciso Y. Businessman. Cotabato City

FROM VARIOUS SECTORS
39. Dataya, Abdul M. Lawyer. Chair of the MILF’s Ad Hoc Joint Action Group
40. Dipatuan, Zafrullah. Medical Doctor. Head of the Bangsamoro Development Authority. From Lanao del Sur
41. Sali, Al-Syed A. From Tawi-tawi

GOVERNMENT NOMINEES

Government is supposed to nominate 39 persons to be members of the BTA. Thirty-two took their oath as BTA members.

[NOTE FROM MINDANEWS, 26 February:  In the initial list posted by MindaNews on February 24, the name of Rasul Enderez Ismael was inadvertently omitted, as one member was named twice: Ustadz Mujahid Al Yakani (number 5, nominated by MNLF) is the same as Abdulmuhmin Mujahid (earlier listed as number 29). Our apologies to Mr. Ismael whom MindaNews saw take his oath inside Rizal Hall. He  is listed here as number 24]

NOMINATED BY THE MNLF

  1. Hassan, Hatimil. Vice Chair, Basilan. BTC Commissioner
  2. Sanni, Punduma. Vice Chair, Lanao del Sur. Professor
  3. Sema, Romeo. Vice Chair,Maguindanao.
  4. Sahrin, Abdul. Secretary-General
  5. Al Yakani, Ustadz Mujadid and Mujahid, Abdulmuhmin (earlier listed as number 29) are one and the same person. Director, ARMM Darul Ifta. From Basilan
  6. Sema, Omar Yasser Christopher. BTC Commissioner. From Maguindanao
  7. Jakilan, Muslimin. From Basilan
  8. Udjah, Sahie. Professor
    9. Usman, Adzfar. Professor

WOMEN
10. Alamia, Laisa. Lawyer. ARMM Executive Secretary and concurrent Social Welfare Secretary. From Basilan, Zamboanga, Cotabato
11. Ampatuan, Baintan Adil. Engineer. ARMM Executive Director, Regional Planning and Development Office. Head of ARMM Transition Team
12. Anayatin, Susan. Settler Community representative. Professor. BTC Commissioner
13. Basman, Anna Tarhata. Consultant for peace process, Bangsamoro issues, and Islamic finance. From Lanao del Sur
14. Latiph, Maisara. Lawyer. BTC Commissioner. From Lanao del Sur
15. Mastura, Sittie Sahara Montaner Ebrahim. Maguindanao
16. Sevilla, Arlene N. Associate Professor and Director of External Affairs Scholarship Coordinator, Tawi-tawi Regional Agricultural College and Executive Director, Tawi-tawi Alliance of Civil Society Organizations

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
17. Saliga, Romeo. BTC Commissioner. From Upi, Maguindanao

SETTLER COMMUNITIES
Anayatin, Susan (see number 12)

FROM VARIOUS SECTORS
18. Abas, Zulkamayn. Doctor. Assistant Secretary, ARMM Department of Health.
19. Alih, Eddie. Chancellor of the Mindanao State University in Tawi-tawi from 1995 to 2010. Member of now defunct Constitutional Commission. From Tawi-tawi
20. Ambolodto, Suharto “Teng”. Lawyer. Technical Service Provider. Member, Board of Trustees, INCITEGov. From Maguindanao
21. Barra, Hamid. Professor. National Ulama Conference of the Philippines. From Lanao del Sur
22. Burahan, Abraham “Jess.” Mayor, Hadji Panglima Tahil, Sulu. Secretary-General, League of Municipalities of the Philippines
23. Diamla, Musa. Lanao del Sur
24. Ismael, Rasul Enderez, Assistant Secrertary, ARMM DILG; Political officer of Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri
25.  Lidasan, Datu Mussolini Sinsuat. BTC Commissioner. Executive Director, Al Qalam Institute, Ateneo de Davao University. Iranun from Maguindanao, Cotabato City, Davao City
26. Loong, Don Mustapha Arbison. ARMM Secretary of Public Works and Highways. From Sulu
27. Lorena, Jose Iribani. Lawyer. BTC Commissioner. From Sulu
28. Mawallil, Amilbahar “Amir”. ARMM Information Chief. Youth. From Tawi-tawi
29. Mangudadatu, Khadafeh “Toy.” ARMM Assemblyman. From Maguindanao
30. Sattar, Alzad. Professor. Undersecretary, ARMM Department of Education. From Basilan
31. Tago, Paisalin. Former Commissioner, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos
32. Tan, Nabil. Peace Process Undersecretary; Chair, Government Peace Implementing Panel with the MILF and MNLF. Former ARMM Vice Governor. Former Vice Chair, Government Peace Panel in the negotiations with the MNLF that led to the signing of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement. From Sulu

The MNLF has ten representatives in the BTA, nine nominated by the government and one – Bainon Karon – nominated by the MILF.

Ten nominees were stricken off the ‘’final list’’ Friday morning but three names were also added – and in fact showed up at the Palace — leaving seven more for government to fill up 39 seats.

The names of seven more BTA members — numbers 33 to 39 — are not yet available. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

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