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Ebrahim orders 40,000-strong MILF to vote Bangsamoro party candidates

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COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 26 April) – Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim, chair of the 40,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has directed its members to vote all the candidates fielded and supported by the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP), the front’s regional political party.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, also known as BARMM Interim Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, rallies support for UBJP candidates during a rally in Cotabato City at the start of the campaign period. MindaNews file photo by BONG S. SARMIENTO

Ebrahim described the May 9 polls as “very historic for the Bangsamoro people.”
 
“This (elections) is one of the most historic events in the Bangsamoro because this is the first time that the MILF is fielding candidates in the country’s elections,” Murad recently told the front’s members and supporters.
 
“As chairman of the MILF, I order all MILF members to vote all the candidates of the UBJP,” he added.
 
Ebrahim stressed that by voting the UBJP candidates in the region, and making them win, the MILF is ensuring the sustainability of the Bangsamoro peace process.
 
The MILF signed a final peace accord called the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with the Philippine government in 2014 after 17 years of negotiations.
 
The CAB paved the way for the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in 2019, after a plebiscite that ratified Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the BARMM, popularly known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
 
Ebrahim, also the UBJP president and concurrent interim Chief Minister of the BARMM, said the candidates that they fielded and supported helped push the Bangsamoro peace process.
 
The UBJP fielded full slates in Cotabato City, the seat of the Bangsamoro region, and in Maguindanao, the MILF’s bailiwick.
 
Its standard bearer in Cotabato City, which voted for inclusion to the BARMM during the plebiscite, is three-termer councilor Bruce Matabalao, who is challenging reelectionist Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi.
 
In Maguindanao, the UBJP is fielding 2nd District Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu for governor. Mangudadatu is former three-termer governor of Maguindanao and is gunning to defeat reelectionist Gov. Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu, wife of Sultan Kudarat Gov. Suharto Mangudadatu, Toto’s cousin.
 
There are four other candidates vying for the post.
 
On Saturday, the UBJP endorsed the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo, whom Ebrahim described as a “friend of the Bangsamoro.”
 
Ebrahim said Robredo “was there for us… was there for Marawi … makes time for the Bangsamoro” and whose track record “consistently demonstrates strong support to the advocacies of the Bangsamoro.” 

Mohagher Iqbal, UBJP vice president for Central Mindanao, also stressed the need for the party’s candidates to win in the May 9 polls to sustain the gains of the peace process.
 
“There’s a need to sustain the peace and justice that we’re reaping now. There is no other path to thread but only the way of peace,” said Iqbal, also the Bangsamoro Minister of Education and chair of the MILF Peace Implementing panel.

Currently, the MILF combatants and their weapons are being subjected to the third phase of decommissioning as part of the normalization aspect of the CAB.
 
Iqbal expressed hopes the 2022 elections, both in the local and national levels, will be clean and orderly. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)

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