Officials explain Duterte’s nod on BARMM transition extension

Officials explain Duterte’s nod on BARMM transition extension

 By Ali G. Macabalang

BARMM officials led by ICM Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim (second from right) in a pictorial pose with Senator Christopher “Bong” Go after their meeting with President Duterte Monday night in Malacañang. (Photo supplied)

President Rodrigo Duterte has reportedly given his nod on calls to extend the lifespan of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) lifespan, with key Muslim officials explaining the nature of the Presidential gesture and its essence in building the foundations for a strong regional autonomous government to address the so-called Mindanao conflict.

The President was categorical in giving his support during a meeting in Malacañang on Monday night, Nov. 23 with Bangasamoro Interim Chief Minister (ICM) Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim and Regional Executive Secretary Abdulraof “Sammy Gambar” Macacua, according to Minister Naguib Sinarimbo, who was present in the meeting.

Also read: PRRD meets Murad, backs BARMM transition extension

The meeting, which tackled solely the agenda on proposed postponement of 2022 election for parliament members in the Bangsamoro and extending the BTA lifespan to three more years, was attended by Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. and Interior and Local Government Sec. Eduardo Ano, Sinarimbo said.

At the meeting, Sinarimbo said, the President sought the opinion of Sec. Galvez on, who in turn confirmed the lack of time in the implementation of the normalization track provided under R.A. 11054 as well as the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).   

The normalization track mandates the decommissioning of the 12,000 MILF armed members and their transformation to civilian peaceful and productive life with corresponding package of state assistance.

Only around 7,000 members of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) have been decommissioned so far in the process that was launched personally on Sept. 7, 2019 by President Duterte. The formal process will end in 2022, according to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

Under such track, the government would provide each decommissioned MILF combatants P1-million aid package – P100,000 given during the decommissioning ceremonies; P400,000 for the education, health welfare and other basic needs of the family members of each decommissioned fighter; and P500,000 for the building of their decent houses.

Interviewed at the sidelight of Monday’s 11th year commemoration of the 2009 “Ampatuan massacre,” Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu said MILF and Bangsamoro government representatives had told him that only the P100,000 instant decommissioning aid was given.

The ostensive shift of national government attention to the campaign against COVID-19 pandemic and spending of state resources in the process could be a reason in the delay of releases for the remaining P900,000 to each MILF decommissioned member-combatant, Mangudadatu said.

Rep. Mangudadatu has confirmed his favor for extension in BTA lifespan, saying that he had even recommended for ICM Ebrahim to elevate to the President the issue, which has brought about viral debates in the social media.

Coincidentally, ICM Ebrahim and his two cabinet key members met the President in Malacañang in the evening of Monday.

BTA Parliament Member Khadafeh “Toy” Mangudadatu, younger brother of the lawmaker, also expressed utmost support to the call for postponement of the 2022 elections for Bangsamoro parliament members and extending the interim autonomous governance’s lifespan.

MP Mangudadatu brushed off insinuations that the BTA passage of extension-endorsing resolution last Nov. 17 was replete with “self-serving” desire.

To prove that the election postponement move involved no vested interest, he would tender his resignation as MP member immediately a day after the national government shall have officially declared postponing the polls.

At Monday’s Palace meeting, the President’s backing of the proposal was explicit because he instantly ordered Sec. Galvez and other concerned cabinet members to facilitate steps leading to the grant of additional three years or so to the BTA lifespan, Minister Sinarimbo said.

Malinaw naman po ang support ng Presidente sa extension proposal at may mga directives siya,” Sinarimbo said  

He said ICM Ebrahim and the regional cabinet will be holding subsequent meetings with Sec. Galvez to discuss the details required in the pursuit of regional governance’s transition extension.

Earlier, Sinarimbo posted in the Facebook two photos, one showing them in a huddle with the President and another depicting them in posterity pose with Senator Chrostopher “Bong” Go, an constant buddy of the President, after their meeting with the Chief Executive. (AGM)    

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