By Ali G. Macabalang
Lanao Sur Governor Mamintal “Bombit” Alonto-Adiong Jr. on Friday explained the stance of his constituent mayors in opposing calls for an extension in the Bangsamoro autonomous government’s transitional operations beyond 2022, saying the clamor should be subjected to popular consultation.
In an interview over the phone with the Philippine Muslim Today newspaper, Gov. Adiong confirmed that Interim Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim had earlier talked to him and asked for possible provincial government endorsement of an idea floated by a non-government organization – the Mindanao People’s Caucus – about a need for three additional years in the current timeline of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).
After the talk, the governor said, he called for a closed-door meeting with the mayors of the 39 towns in Lanao del Sur and Marawi City on Nov. 11 to get their reactions about the proposal.
Thirty two (32) attended the meeting and all of them sounded off “no” or objection to the proposal, Gov. Adiong said, pointing out though that the mayors’ sentiments were informal and not put into official manifestation.
“I was surprised the proceedings of the closed-door meeting had leaked out to the media. None of us wanted the meeting results heralded in the media,” Adiong said in the vernacular.
A few days after the meeting, the Philippine Muslim Today, citing reliable sources allied with the governor, carried a news-breaking story about the mayors’ resentment to the extension clamor and their desire for the pursuance of the 2022 election in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to ensure genuine electoral representation to the infant regional government.
Gov. Adiong took exception to a portion of the published report that undermined the fitness or qualifications of BTA incumbent members, whom President Duterte had appointed and installed to office formally on March 29, 2019.
He said his clan would never belittle or malign public officials, especially the incumbent BTA members. He said many of the appointed Parliament members are either his relatives or friends.
As an offspring of the prominent Adiong and Alonto political clans that helped sowed the seed of struggle for genuine autonomy for the Moro community, he said could afford to be a stumbling block to the success of the BARMM entity.
The late former Senators Domocao Alonto and Alauya Alonto were grandfather and great grandfather, respectively, of the provincial governor.
As much as he respects the sentiments of his constituent mayors, Adiong he would rally their demand for a popular consultation in the clamor for extension in the BARMM government transition period.
During the Nov. 11 meeting at the provincial capitol complex in Marawi City, Adiong recalled, many mayors aired dismay in the failure of the MILF officialdom to deliver its promises for packages of equitable development projects and fair share in regional employment for Lanao Sur people once BOL ratification was overwhelmingly ratified in the January 2019 plebiscite.
Adiong said the LGUs of Lanao del Sur and Marawi City yielded over 90 percent turnout of voters, who cast close to 100 percent affirmative votes.
Lanao del Sur is second richest-vote province in BARMM with close to 600,000 electorate. The first is Maguindanao, which has close to 700,000 voters.
Apart from Maguindanao amd Lanao del Sur, BARMM also covers the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi as well as the cities of Cotabato, Marawi and Lamitan and 63 villages in North Cotabato.
In a podcast with journalist Christian Esguera on Nov. 13, Chief Minister Ebrahim announced his administration’s support to an earlier recommendation by the Mindanao People’s Caucus (MPC) for a three-year extension in the lifespan of the BTA, the interim governing body of BARMM.
The MPC had reportedly conducted a rapid review on the operation of the interim regional governance and found out that its three-year transition period ending in 2022 would not suffice for the satisfactory implementation of R.A. 11054 and the provision on the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB), particularly in the government and normalization tracks.
The governmental track mandates the establishment of more meaningful bureaucratic structures in BARMM, while the normalization track stipulates the full decommissioning of the MILF combatants for their transformation to civilian productive and peaceful life.
On the basis of the podcast proceedings, the BTA passed on Nov. 17 Resolution No. 332 endorsing to Congress the call for three-year extension in the BTA lifespan.
Resolution main author Parliament Member Jose Lorena has cited earlier passages of endorsement manifestos and resolution from the provinces of Tawi-Tawi and Maguindanao. (AGM)