BARMM inauguration: new date is March 25

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 March) – From March 11 to March 21, the new date for the inauguration of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and the inaugural session of the Bangsamoro Parliament is on March 25.

On Friday, members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) were informed that the new schedule would be “Monday, March 25, with President Duterte.”

The BTA will govern the BARMM during the three-year transition period until June 30, 2022.

In its first caucus on February 27 at the Shariff Kabungsuan Cultural Complex, the BTA set March 11 as the target date for the inauguration. In its second caucus on March 9, the BTA agreed on March 21 as the compromise date as some members proposed March 18th, the 51st anniversary of the Jabidah Massacre and 84th anniversary of the Dansalan Declaration, while others suggested the 25th.

Members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the body that will govern the Bnagsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) take their oath before President Rodrigo Duterte at the Rizal Hall of Malacanang on 22 February 2019.  In photo are Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, who was also named Interim Chief Minister, MILF 1st vice chair Ghazali Jaafar,  MILF peace implemening chair Mohagher Iqbal (partly hidden) beside former Peace Process Undersecretary Nabil Tan. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim (Al Haj Murad Ebrahim) told MindaNews last Tuesday that the inauguration would be held on March 21 even if the President may not be able to attend due to his very tight schedule.

On Friday, Ebrahim told MindaNews that in their conversation with President Duterte at the sidelines of the National Peace and Order Council meeting here Thursday, the President said he wants to attend the inauguration but can’t make it on March 21.

The President, Ebrahim said, confirmed his availability on March 25.

March 21 is the 19th anniversary of the declaration of “all-out war” against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) by then President Joseph Estrada.

March 25 is two days short of five years to the day the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was signed by government and the MILF in the gardens of Malacanang on March 27, 2014.

March 25 is exactly two months after the Commission on Elections proclaimed the ratification of RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the BARMM.

The BTA members were also informed that the March 19 caucus that they agreed upon on March 9 would proceed as scheduled.

President Duterte on February 22 administered the oath of 72 BTA members at the Rizal Hall in Malacanang. On February 27, Malacanang released 76 appointment papers of BTA members, as well the appointment paper naming Ebrahim as the interim Chief Minister.

Of the 76 appointed, one passed away on March 13 – the MILF’s 1st Vice Chair, Ghazlai Jaafar, who was supposed to have been the Speaker of the Bangsamoro Parliament.

Jaafar’s death leaves only 75 members out of the supposed 80 as of Friday.

Of the five who will be appointed to fill in the remaining seats, the four will be nominated by government while the replacement of Jaafar will be nominated by the MILF.

In the 80-member body, the MILF nominated 41 while the government is supposed to nominate 39.

Ebrahim said the MILF Central Committee will meet to discuss who they will recommend to President Duterte on who will replace Jaafar as BTA member. The Central Committee will also decide on who would be Speaker. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MIndaNews)

READ: BARMM inauguration, Bangsamoro Parliament’s inaugural session on March 21