Marcos to address Bangsamoro Transition Authority in Cotabato City on Sept. 15

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 September) – President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. is the special guest at the inaugural session of the Parliament of the new Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) on Thursday, September 15 in Cotabato City, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez said. 

The President will address the 80-member transition body that, for the first time since 2019, is represented by all the Moro liberation fronts and factions. Under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the peace agreement signed by the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in March 2014 and its enabling law, RA 11054, the BTA will be led by the MILF

The MILF-led BTA (referred to as BTA2 to distinguish it from BTA1 under the Duterte administration) is represented by 55 members of the Moro liberation fronts: 41 from the MILF, seven from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction under Muslimin Sema and the late Yusop Jikiri and seven from the MNLF faction under Nur Misuari, including Misuari’s two children, Abdulkarim and Nureddha. The rest of the members are from various sectors. 

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. addresses the 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority on Friday, August 12, 2022 in Malacanang. Photo courtesy of the Office of the President

In BTA1, only the MILF and MNLF under Sema-Jikiri were represented as Nur did not nominate anyone from his group.  Galvez met the Members of Parliament from the MNLF factions on August 18 separately and together and both groups reached an agreement to do away with faction-labeling. 

On Sunday, during the visit of interim Bangsamoro Chief Minister and MILF chair Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim to the residence of Misuari, the MNLF founding chair confirmed his attendance to the inaugural session.  “I will be there, Inshallah,” he told Ebrahim.  Sema will also be present at the inaugural as chair of his group and as Minister of Labor at the BARMM.

“Social meeting”

Galvez announced the date of the  inaugural session while in Davao City on Saturday afternoon after attending a “social meeting” called for by Special Assistant to the President Anton Lagdameo with officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) led by Chief Minister Ebrahim. 

The Presidential Peace Adviser said Lagdameo, whom the President has designated to be his pointman in the Bangsamoro and all of Mindanao, called for the meeting because “gusto niya maganda ang relationship with BARMM officials,” particularly to ensure a smooth transition. 

Malacanang of the South’s first guests under the Marcos administration are officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao led by interim Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim, also chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Special Assistant to the President Anton Lagdameo (in red) led the group in flashing the peace sign after he hosted the “social meeting” with the BARMM delegation, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez and Local Governments Secretary Ben Hur Abalos at the Malacanang of the South in Panacan, Davao City on Saturday afternoon, 10 September 2022. (L to R) Bangsamoro Minister of Public Works and Highways Ed Guerra, Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal, Galvez, Ebrahim, Lagdameo, BARMM Executive Secretary Abdulraof Macacua, OSAP Undersecretary Joahna Paula Domingo and Member of Parliament Sha Elijah Dumama-Alba. Abalos had earlier left for the airport. MindaNews photo by GREGORIO C. BUENO

The BARMM officials were the first guests of Malacanang of the South under the Marcos administration. Malacañang of the South is now the Office of the Special Assistant to the President in Davao City. 

Also in the meeting was Local Governments Secretary Benhur Abalos.  Ebrahim’s party included Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal who is also chair of the MILF Peace Implementing Panel, Executive Secretary Abdulraof Macacua, Public Works and Highways Minister Ed Guerra, and Member of Parliament Sha Elijah Dumama-Alba. 

Galvez said they are “preparing for this big event,” referring to September 15.  He said the diplomatic corps has been invited as well as key leaders in the national and local levels.

Secretary Carlito Galvez, Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, briefs reporters on developments in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on Saturday afternoon, 10 September 2022 at the Malacanang of the South in Panacan, Davao City. MindaNews photo by GREGORIO BUENO

The inaugural session will take place a month and three days after the BTA members took their oath in Malacanang, an event that was not livestreamed. Galvez said the President issued a four-point guidance in his speech to the BTA then. These are: to finish all the remaining priority codes – Local Government Code, Election Code, Revenue Code – and Indigenous Peoples’ Code; ensure performance of the tasks as mandated; be accountable and ensure the purposes for the block grant are equitably distributed to all BARMM member- areas; and to work double-time because the transition period is only until 30 June 2025 and there would be no more extension. 

The transition period was supposed to have ended on 30 June 2022 but a law was last year extending it until 30 June 2025. 

“Abalos described the meeting as “napakaganda, napaka-productive.”

“Lahat positive. Ang importante… there is trust, there is so much trust. Para kaming magkakapatid eh” (All is positive. What is important is… there is trust, there is so much trust. It’s like we are siblings), he said, adding that the Moro leaders with them are like their elder siblings. 

“It’s just like being with your relatives, with your family. Yun ang atmosphere kanina. Napakasaya,” Abalos said before leaving for the airport. 

“We’re one, we’re brothers”

He acknowledged the Bangsamoro Government’s quick response after the killing of the police chief in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, Lt. Reynaldo Samson, and his aide Corporal Salipudin Endab and the wounding of three other police officers on August 30. He said the Chief Minister immediately “came out with a statement condemning the killing and they are going to help us find the perpetrators and natutuwa ako. It means iisa tayong galaw lahat (and I am glad. This means we are moving as one). We’re one, we’re brothers. We are against injustice, we are against violence. Kaya ang ganda, ang ganda.”

“Moving forward, peace process nangyari na tapos na, it’s continuing, we’ve have tremendous peace in Mindanao. We must make sure that this peace will continue,” Abalos said. 

Iqbal said they requested if the President “would grace that very important inauguration of the Bangsamoro Parliament.”

Galvez said the President is “looking forward” to visiting BARMM because

“gustong-gusto niya na ipakita sa buong bansa na he is supporting 100% BARMM. Gusto niya ipakita sa mga tao na siya ay para sa Kalayaan” (he wants to show to the nation that he is supporting BARMM 100%. He wants to show to the people he is for peace). 

The MILF’s political party, United Bangsamoro Justice Party, endorsed the candidacy of Marcos’ political rival, then Vice President Leni Robredo. 

At the oath-taking on August 12, Ebrahim, whom Marcos reappointed as Chief Minister, was asked by the President to sit beside him and take his oath beside him. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)