Purge the undesirables from the BTA or let the Bangsamoro elect their representatives

My Personal View

By Masiding Noor Yahya

‘[…] consult them [i.e. the Muslims] in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].’ Qur’an 3:159

‘Taxation without representation is tyranny.’ James Otis about 1761

I would rather say, such an institution as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is good so far. It is the only political settlement available for our people, at least, in the time being. Calling for a replacement in the pursuit of the welfare of the Bangsamoro people and for lasting peace in Mindanao is a poor call. It may even appear as a premature judgement.

We must not forget it took difficult times, decades of hard work, sacrifices and struggles of the Bangsamoro people, brilliant minds from all stakeholders, international intervention and a President Duterte to produce Republic Act No. 11054, the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) which created BARMM.

It didn’t come through a silver platter. Rather, it was nurtured by the blood of the Bangsamoro martyrs shed in asserting our right for self-determination and freedom, especially to be free from injustices committed either historically or at present. To replace it may take another century or more to realize.

If there’s a problem in the new BARMM, it’s those who presently sit at its helm, Could they be true to their words vis Moral Governance? And many people believe ‘Moral Governance’ is more of an advocacy covered with cotton floss easily said than done. Apparently, more and more people are seeing promises yet to be fulfilled by these officials. And to me, lies definitely can’t make a “Moral Governance.”

Nevertheless, doubt against doubt, I’d wait until the end of their term in 2022 if they mean what they say or at least could be close to its fulfilment, such as fulfilling their promises.

Is there a need to extend the BTA term?

If you ask me if there is a need to extend the term of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) from 2022 to 2025 as the present interim Bangsamoro authorities are working hard to the max, I’d say, “It depends.”

It would entail big amount of money to hold the 2022 elections for Bangsamoro Parliament and it would be better to spend such amount for the immediate need of the Bangsamoro people who are still suffering from cruel circumstances brought about by the dreaded pandemic not to mention other natural and man-made calamities that befell them like the Marawi Siege of 2017, the skirmishes and fighting among armed Moro groups which the BTA has yet to show if they could tackle to resolve, and many others.

So better postpone it even if it be until 2028 as proposed by Rep. Khalid Dimaporo. The Lanao del Norte congressman through House Bill 8222 seeks to extend the transition period allowing the first regular election for the Bangsamoro Parliament to be synchronized with the 2028 National Elections. This is to complete the peace agreement and fulfill the annex on normalization, according to him.

The bill also seeks to reintegrate the MILF combatants back to mainstream society provided that the financial commitment of 1 million pesos per combatant would first come to completion. “So moving forward, we are proposing for a clear trace of further financial requirements and for all other needed appropriations and/or agreements to be charged to the Bangsamoro Block Grant,” Dimaporo pointed out.

Replace the undesirables

If ever, the BTA term be extended, I ask Heaven above to endow wisdom to the appointing authorities to replace those who are non-performing and/or with questionable reputation. We have heard how some people got appointed in the BTA by grease money or gifts to whoever had helped them. Others may say it’s a heresy or hearsay. Well, I know at least one who does not deserve to be at the Bangsamoro Parliament for questionable character.

So, if they couldn’t get rid of the undesirables in the BTA and appoint more competent heads of offices and officials, then there is no need to postpone the Bangsamoro Parliament elections in 2022. In this case, it is noblier and commendable to let the people decide for their future through an election of their representatives to the regular Bangsamoro Parliament. That is more Islamic and democratic. MNY

Masiding Noor Yahya is an independent Maranao thinker acclaimed “Dean of Mranaw Journalists.” Before he founded and edited Philippine Muslim Today, he used to write for The Manila Times and the defunct Brunei Times. He was the protem secretary general of the Organizing Committee of the World Federation of Muslim Journalists in Kuala Lumpur. This article is his personal view and not of PMT’s.

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