COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 26 February) – Interim Chief Minister Al Haj Murad Ebrahim of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the 80-member body that will govern the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) until June 30, 2022, vowed on Tuesday a government that will “really be free of all the ills of governance,” and named the first set of Cabinet ministers during the turnover rites from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to the BARMM at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex.
“Now we acknowledge that we are entering another level of our jihad. Our jihad will be more intense and more challenging, our jihad firstly will be against our own self,” Murad said, adding “our enemies are all the ills of governance… our enemy is graft and corruption, our enemy is the manipulation of government, our enemy is nepotism, our enemy is all those ills of government.”
In his 24-minute speech, Murad said that aside from taking their oath as BTA members before President in Malacanang on February 22, “we will also take oath to Allah, over the Koran, Inshallah. This is to ensure to you that, Inshallah, we will work for a government that will really be free of all the ills of governance.”
He told reporters after he was ushered into his new office at the Office of the Bangsamoro People by the previous occupant, Mujiv Hataman — the last Governor of the 28-year old ARMM — that they would hold their inaugural session as BTA sometime in March, that he would reside in the Astana, the Governor’s House inside the ARMM compound, and that he would hold a “People’s Day” every week to listen to and address the concerns of his constituents.
He told MindaNews they would swear on the Koran “possibly sa inauguration kasi hindi pa complete ang BTA” (possibly during the inauguration because the BTA is not yet complete).
The MILF-led BTA is supposed to be composed of 80 members but in the February 22 oathtaking, only 72 took their oath. One of the MILF’s 41 nominees was unable to attend as she was recuperating from an ailment. Only 32 of the supposed 39 nominees from government took their oath. Malacanang as of Tuesday has not released the final list and the appointment papers of the 80 members.
Murad named the first set of members of his Cabinet during his 24-minute speech at the SKCC. The ten are Architect Eduard Guerra as Minister of Finance, Budget and Management; Raissa Jajurie as Minister of Social Services; Mohagher Iqbal as Minister of Basic, Higher and Technical education; Dr. Zafrullah Dipatuan Minister of Health; Timuay Melanio Ulama as Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs. Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo as Minister of Local Government; Abdulraof Macacua as Minister of Environment and Natural Resources; Mohammad Suaib Yacob as Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform; Hussein P. Munoz as Minister of Public Order and Safety: and Murad as concurrent Minister of Public Works and Highways, in the meantime.
Murad inadvertently missed reading number 5 on his list – the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs — but he did so immediately when his attention was called, erroneously describing it as the 11th ministry.
Murad also belatedly announced the names of his two Deputy Chief Ministers, the announcement done only during the photo session after the program ended at noon.
Under RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the BARMM, the Interim Chief Minister is to appoint two Interim Deputy Chief Ministers, who shall also be members the BTA.
He named Ali Solaiman of Lanao del Sur, the MILF’S 2nd Vice Chair and member of the MILF Central Committee, as Deputy for the mainland while Abdul Sahrin, Secretary-General of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is the Deputy for the Islands.
He also named MILF 1st Vice Chair Ghazali Jaafar as Speaker but added that while he is recuperating, the Deputy Speaker, Pangalian Balindong of Lanao del Sur, will serve as Speaker.
Jaafar, chair of the now defunct Bangsamoro Transition Commission that drafted the basic law, was absent during the February 26 handover but was present at the oathtaking in Malacanang on February 22, entering Rizal Hall on a wheelchair. But he insisted on standing up during the oathtaking.
Murad, Iqbal, Guerra, Macacua, Yacob and Munoz are all members of the MILF Central Committee; Jajurie and Sinarimbo served as members of the legal panel of the MILF peace panel; Ulama was a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission from 2013 to 2016 and 2016 to 2019; Dipatuan is Executive Director of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA).
Iqbal is chair of the MILF Peace Implementing Panel and Information Chief; Guerra is Chair, Committee on Foreign Affairs and concurrent chair of the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC) on the MILF side; Macacua is Chief of Staff of the soon-to-be-decommissioned Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF); Yacob is BDA Chief Executive Officer and Munoz is Deputy Chief of Staff of the BIAF.
Iqbal, jajurie and Munoz, like Ulama, were members of the BTC from 2013 to 2019 while Macacua was BTC member from 2016.
Of the 10 Ministers, only Sinarimbo, who served as ARMM Executive Secretary from December 2009 to 2011 and is now Deputy Secretary General of the United Bangsamoro Justice Party, is not a member of the BTA.
Under RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the BARMM, the Interim Cabinet shall be composed of 15 primary ministries: Finance, and Budget and Management; Social Services; Trade, Investments, and Tourism; Labor and Employment; Transportation and Communications; Basic, Higher and Technical Education; Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs; Health; Public Works; Local Government; Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy; Human Settlements and Development; Science and Technology; Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform; and Public Order and Safety.
Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, stressed the need for “unity in diversity.’
“Just like a rainbow, it is composed of different hues. Each color is uniquely beautiful and has a special purpose. It is reflective of the various tribes and beliefs that co-exist in the Bangsamoro homeland. But we can only maximize its beauty and power if we work harmoniously and collectively,” he said.
Galvez noted that the transition process is a daunting taks but “there are no challenges that we cannot surmount if we all work together as a team.”
He urged the new leaders to “put personal interest behind and work for the common good of the Bangsamoro People.”
“From individual to organizational, let’s transcend it to societal change in our desire for peace, progress and prosperity. The bottomline here is to bring good governance through clean governmental transaction,” he said.
Unleashing the potentials of the Bangsamoro
In a 13-minute speech that left the audience teary-eyed, Hataman fought back tears while saying that the Bangsamoro is “lahat ng nanalig na isang araw ay mababawi natin ang ating dangal, at kikilalanin tayo bilang mga taong mayroong dignidad at angking kadakilaan. Tayo ang Bangsamoro” (everyone who believes that one day we will reclaim our honor, and be recognized as people with dignity and greatness. We are the Bangsamoro).
He urged the Moro to unite, treat their fellow Moro as allies, as partners in the struggle, to love and trust each other, “dahil alam po nating lahat: Moro ang unang tutulong sa kapwa Moro. Moro ang unang dapat maasahan ng kapwa niya Moro” (because we all know: the Moro will be the first to help the Moro, the Moro can rely on his fellow Moro).
He asked his fellow Moro to stop pitting the Moro against the Moro because the Bangsamoro is “iisa” (one) – whether you are Tausug or Mernaaw, Yakan or Maguindanaon or Sama.
Hataman, who served as OIC ARMM Governor from December 22, 2011 to June 30, 2013 and elected governor from 2013 to 2016 and 2016 to 2019, appealed to his fellow Moro to let go of the old conflicts and forgive, as they begin a new chapter. “We are one, so let us show what a united Bangsamoro can do, let them think: So this is how it is when the full potentials of the Moro are unleashed,” he said in Filipino.
“Pormal ko ngayong ipinapasa ang pamunuan sa BTA sa pamumuno ni Interim Chief Minister Al Haj Murad. Pormal kong isinisara ang kabanata ng ARMM, at binubuksan ang ating bagong kabanata ng BARMM,” (I am formally passing on the leadership to the BTA under Interim Chief Minister Al Haj Murad Ebrhaim. I formally close the chapter of the ARMM and open our new chapter as BARMM,” Hataman said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)