COTABATO CITY: The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) formally took over the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in ceremonies at the ShariffKabunsuan Cultural Complex here on Tuesday.
Murad Ebrahim, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), was installed as the first chief minister of BARMM and subsequently assumed the powers and responsibilities of the 29-year-old ARMM from outgoing regional Gov. MujivHataman.
In his inaugural speech, Ebrahim announced priorities of the BARMM under his leadership that include delivery of health and other basic services, as well as construction of roads, bridges, school buildings and other infrastructure.
Ebrahim designated a Maranao physician, SafrullahDipatuan, to head the region’s Ministry of Health.
Ebrahim will concurrently head the Ministry of Public Works and Highways.
He designated Mohagher Iqbal, the chairman of the MILF Committee on Information, as head of the Ministry of Education.
RaissaJajurie, a Tausug lawyer and a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), was selected to lead the Ministry of Social Work and Development.
GhadzaliJaafar, the chairman of the BTC, will be the Speaker of the 80-member Parliament or the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).
Jaafar used to be the vice chairman for political affairs of the MILF.
Hataman vowed to assist the BTA to ensure the success of the new region.
“Pormalkongisinisaraangkabanata ng ARMM, at binubuksanangatingbagongkabanata ng BARMM (I am formally ending the ARMM chapter as we open BARMM),” Hataman said.
Ebrahim asked the Bangsamoro people to help him fight new enemies — graft and corruption, manipulation of government and nepotism, among others.
“We are now entering another level of jihad. Our jihad will be more intense and more challenging,” he said.
“Give us the chance to turn into reality our aspirations. Without your support, we will not succeed in our jihad. Our success will be seeing that good governance will prevail in our system,” Ebrahim added.
However, a Moro leader said he would establish a new faction to protest what he called a “virtual dictatorship” by the MILF.
Firdausi Abbas, also a member of the BTC, questioned the ability of the MILF to govern a new autonomous region in the country’s conflict-ridden South.
Abbas, also a lawyer and recognized as Sultan of Lanao, said he would “pursue the crusade along pacifist lines” once he quit the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
The breakaway MNLF group would be formally announced after a meeting in Cagayan de Oro City next week, he added.
Abbas represented the MNLF faction of YusopJikiri in the committee that initially drafted the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
He, however, accused Jikiri and other MNLF leaders of “conspiring” with the MILF to make sure the latter would get majority of seats in the BTA.
The MILF nominated 41 from its ranks to the 80-member transition government.
“We see now the political power of the MILF and they’re grooming all their children to be the political kingpins in their areas,” Abbas was quoted as saying on national television.
On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte met with MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari, and apologized to the rebel leader for the delay in the implementation of a proposed federal form of government in the country, Malacañang said.
Duterte had a “short talk” with Misuari at the Palace on Monday night, according to his former top aide and now aspiring senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and his spokesman Salvador Panelo.
“The meeting with MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari lasted only 15 minutes. They are going to meet again,” Panelo said in a news briefing.
“What transpired last night was the President told the chairman that he admired his patience and he apologized for not having implemented or enforced whatever
agreements that they had previously with regard to federalism and they will be talking again precisely for that,” he added.
The President’s closed-door meeting with Misuari came after Duterte revealed “rumblings” in the MNLF about the new Bangsamoro autonomous region.
The MNLF reportedly sought greater representation in the 80-member BTA after only five seats were allocated to the group.
Under the law creating the Bangsamoro region, the BTA will be composed of 41 nominees from the MILF and 39 individuals nominated by the government.
Panelo said Misuari was set to leave on Tuesday night for trips to the United Arab Emirates and Morocco to attend meetings of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Council of Foreign Ministers and the Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States.
“The courts have allowed the MNLF chairman to travel to attend the OIC conference. There is a permission granted by the courts, the Sandiganbayan specifically,” he added.
The Sandiganbayan is hearing graft and malversation cases against Misuari over allegedly anomalous procurement when he was ARMM governor.
Misuari went into hiding after the 2013 Zamboanga siege, but has been granted temporary liberty by Duterte when the latter came to power in 2016. (The Manila Times)