FACT CHECK: Bangsamoro Transition Authority did not endorse Robredo’s presidential bid

The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the interim body that governs the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), did not endorse the presidential bid of former Vice President Leni Robredo.

A report aired over Usaping Bayan, a television show of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), on 29 July falsely claimed that the BTA supported Robredo’s bid.

In fact, the 80-member BTA, which is led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with 41 nominees and 39 from the government, did not support any candidate during the May 9 presidential elections.

According to the SMNI report, the “MILF Salamat Wing, which recently surfaced in the Bangsamoro region, urged President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., also referred to as PBBM, to replace all the BTA members for supporting Robredo. Marcos, who got at least 31 million votes, defeated Robredo and several other contenders in the May 9 presidential race.

SMNI reported: “Hiling nila kay Pangulong Marcos na palitan ang 80 miyembro ng BTA sa pangunguna ni Interim Chief (Minister Ahod) “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim. Giit nila si dating Vice President Leni Robredo ang sinuportahan ng mga taga-BTA sa nagdaang eleksyon habang ang Salamat Wing ay si Pangulong Bongbong Marcos ang sinuportahan.”  https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1083113865637894

(They (MILF Salamat Wing) asked Marcos to replace the 80-member BTA headed by Interim Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim. According (to the Salamat Wing), the BTA supported former Vice President Leni Robredo during the elections while the Salamat Wing backed President Marcos.)

However, the BTA as a collegial body remained neutral and non-partisan during the 2022 presidential contest.

It was actually the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP), the MILF’s political party, that supported Robredo’s candidacy, and not the BTA.

The UBJP declared support to Robredo during her birthday on April 23 at Camp Darapanan, the MILF main headquarters in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1586805/embargo-birthday-gift-robredo-secures-milf-ubjp-endorsement-for-2022-presidential-race

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2022/04/23/2176195/robredo-gets-backing-milf-historic-endorsement

In his speech, Ebrahim, who is also both chair of the MILF and the UBJP, praised Robredo as a “brave, strong-willed, and compassionate leader who willingly fights for the rights of the marginalized, knowing fully well that peace cannot be attained without serving justice.” 

Aside from backing Robredo, the UBJP, for the first time, also fielded candidates for several provincial and local positions in the Bangsamoro region.

Two days before the May 9 elections, Ebrahim, in his capacity as MILF chair, and Muslimin Sema, in his capacity as chair of the Moro National Liberation Front – Council of 15, issued a joint statement endorsing Robredo’s candidacy. Sema is concurrently the Bangsamoro Minister of Labor and Employment.

The Bangsamoro region was created in 2019 following the ratification of Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for BARMM, popularly known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

The creation of the Bangsamoro region was the key component of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which the government and the MILF signed in 2014 after 17 years of peace negotiations.

The emergence of the MILF Salamat Wing  has been condemned by the family of the late MILF founder Salamat Hashim and the MILF central committee.

Abdulfatah Delna, ad hoc chair of the MILF Salamat Wing, said they are “gaining ground in the Bangsamoro region,” that they are “not a breakaway group or that sort” but “bona fide and legitimate members and officials of the MILF and are trusted persons of the late [MILF] chairman Salamat Hashim.”

According to the MILF, Delna, a deputy commander of the National Guard Front of the MILF’s armed wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, was suspended last April “for overt political acts of supporting a local candidate in Maguindanao who continues to undermine the peace process, the MILF, and the transitional government.”

As with all our other reports, MindaNews welcomes leads or suggestions from the public to potential fact-check stories. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)

(This fact-check piece was produced with the support of Internews’ Philippine Fact-Checker Incubator Project.)