Von Al Haq is BARMM’s new senior minister

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 18 April)—Abunawas Maslamama, more commonly known as “Von Al Haq” as former spokesperson of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), has been appointed as senior minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Looking innocent at the press conference on Monday (17 April 2023), Abunawas “Von Al Haq” Maslamama was announced to replace the vacant seat of now Maguindanao del Norte OIC-Governor Abdulraof Macacua as the new BARMM Senior Minister. (MindaNews photo by FERDINANDH CABRERA)

It was announced in a press briefing on Monday called by Abdulraof “Sammy Gambar” Macacua, who relinquished his post as senior minister after his appointment as OIC-governor of Maguindanao del Norte.

The BARMM’s senior minister is equivalent to Malacañang’s executive secretary.

Maslamama said that when he was told by BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim that he would be the next chief minister, he replied: “If that’s the order, I will accept the challenge and hopefully I can work very productive.”

Before Maslamama’s new designation, he served as deputy minister of the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG-BARMM) and spokesperson of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) armed wing, the BIAF.

Maslamama said that he can be called “senior” because as early as 1973, he was already active in the revolution, which he said eventually led to “a colorful narrative of our lives.” He was referring to his being a rebel leader and now among the leaders of the Bangsamoro government.

Meanwhile, at the press briefing at Macacua’s office along Sinsuat Ave. in Cotabato City, he updated the media about the urgency to organize the Sangguniang Panlalawigan is vital for the full governance of the new province to work.

At least 20 persons for the eight elective board member seats have been nominated by political and civil society groups to complete the lineup.

Macacua confirmed his meeting with Mayor Datu Lester Sinsuat (of Datu Odin Sinsuat municipality in Maguindanao del Norte), who is the husband of appointed OIC-Vice Gov. Bai Ainee Limbona-Sinsuat; and Datu Ali Midtimbang (former mayor of Talayan), who is also father of the Maguindanao del Sur OIC-Vice Governor Datu Nathaniel Midtimbang.

“For now I have no authority to divulge what we have discussed but it was a delightful and positive meeting,” Macacua said.

“Hopefully we can submit the names [of the nominees] by next week,” he added.

Among the issues they discussed, Macacua said, is the seat of provincial government of Maguindanao del Norte.

He said that Mayor Sinsuat admitted that while Republic Act 11550, the law that mandated the split of the province, indicated that the seat of Maguindanao del Norte will be in his hometown, there was no purchase yet of a land for the capitol site.

What Macacua is proposing is to instead use the old capitol compound in Simuay in his hometown of Sultan Kudarat. He said “it is huge and is owned by the province.”

He said that a legislation could move the proposed capitol site. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)