Bangsamoro in transition: Don’t call them by their noms de guerre anymore

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 13 March) – Don’t call them by their noms de guerre anymore.

After a long, long time, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Central Committee members, the Chief of Staff of the soon-to-be-decommissioned Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), and front and base commanders who used noms de guerre, were able to use their real names on January 21 and February 6 when they cast their votes in the plebiscite to ratify Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“This is my first time to vote,” the 71-year old MILF chair told reporters who had gathered around him to document the historic moment in his voting precinct at the Simuay Central Elementary School on January 21. When the poll chair called out Voter Number 88 — Ebrahim, Ahod ‘Murad’ Balawag – Murad stood up.

A tarpaulin congratulating interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim is displayed at the guardhouse leading to the Central Committee conference center in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) Camp Darapanan in Simuay, Sultan Kudaarat, Maguindanao, on 13 March 2019. Ahod Balawag Ebrhim is the nreal name of MILF chair AL Haj Murad Ebrahim. MindaNews photo by CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS

Murad’s appointment papers as member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) and as interim Chief Minister (CM) name him as Ahod Balawag Ebrahim. But it will take sometime before people will get used to calling him by his real name.

Even President Duterte, who appointed Ahod Balawag Ebrahim as BTA member and interim Chief Minister, in his speech at the oathtaking on February 22 said he was “pleased to announce the appointment of MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.”

The interim CM has since been signing papers as Ahod Balawag Ebrahim. Even the outpost at the entrance to the Central Committee’s conference center in Camp Darapanan in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, where he entertained guests as MILF chair, has used his real name on the tarpaulin congratulating him for having been installed as interim CM.

The appointment document of Sammy Al Mansour, also known as Sammy Gambar, BIAF Chief of Staff and now Minister of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy, names him as Abdularaof Abdul Macacua.

Macacua was first appointed to a government post in February 2017 as member of the now defunct Bangsamoro Transition Commission, the body that drafted the Bangsamoro Basic Law. RA 11054 is the substitute bill filed by the bicameral conference committee.

The names Abdullah Gordiano Macapaar and Akmad Indigay Abas, both BTA members, do not spark interest until their noms de guerre are mentioned. They are the once dreaded ‘Kumander Bravo,” commander of the BIAF’s North Western Mindanao Front and “Kumander Jack” of the Eastern Mindanao Front.

(L to R) Moro Islamic Liberation Front Commander Abdullah Macapaar aka “Kumander Bravo,” North Western Mindanao Front commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s soon-to-be-decommissioned Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) stands beside Abdulraof Macacua aka Sammy Al Mansoor and Sammy Gambar, BIAF Chief of Staff, former Rep. Pangalian Balindong and MILF Central Committee member Ibrahim Ali as they await the oathtaking rites of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority at Rizal Hall, Malacanang on 22 February 2019. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

The MILF-led BTA is an 80-member body that will govern the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Seventy-two persons took their oath of office before President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacanang on February 22.

On February 27, Malacanang released 76 appointment papers, including the 41st MNLF nominee who was unable to take her oath on February 22 as she was recuperating from an ailment, and four new appointees. But the appointment paper of a professor and civil society leader from Tawi-tawi who took her oath in Malacanang, was not among those released. Secretary Carlito Galvez on March 3 told MindaNews they will write an apology to Prof. Arlene Napoles-Sevilla but as of 10 a.m. on March 13, the Galvez’ office has not communicated with her.

Of the 76 appointees, one died on March 13 – MILF 1st Vice Chair Ghazali Jaafar, who was supposed to be Speaker – leaving five more seats to fill up – four to be nominated by government and one nominated by the MILF to replace Jaafar. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)