By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – In a likely extended Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) lifespan, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim has expressed favor for the President to appoint a fresh set of 80 Parliament members to run the affairs of the new autonomous governance until 2025.
Ebrahim, incumbent interim Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), explained the preference of the MILF-led current BTA setup during a press conference culminating the 1st Regional Summit they conducted here on July 23.
“Actually, that will depend on the content of a law (enacted by Congress for an extended transition),” Ebrahim pointed out, referring to the question of who should appoint the members of the 80-seat parliament for another three years of transitional operations by the BARMM governance.
Earlier, some lawmakers disclosed that one or more of bills seeking to postpone the 2022 BARMM polls and extend the BTA transition period to 2025 would contain a provision vesting with the President the power of appointment. The incumbent BARMM officials led by Ebrahim were not opposed to such proposed provision.
“Sa aming panig, we prefer that (the power of appointment is retained by) the President. Now, (in pursuit of major peace agreements with the government), we would want the parliament to be still led by the MILF,” Ebrahim said.
He said their organizational clamor is for “the MILF to nominate at least a majority of 41” of the 80 BTA members to be appointed again by the President to sustain the intents of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) and R.A. 11054 (BARMM Charter) of 2018.
The remaining 39 members including at least six representatives from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) shall be appointed among nominees from different sectors, Ebrahim hinted with respect to the existing MNLF final peace accord of 1996 with the government.
Prior to his inaugural installation of the BARMM Parliament and bureaucracy on March 29, 2019, President Duterte had appointed staggeringly the 80 BTA members, 41 of whom were nominated with six MILF representatives and the rest from other sectors.
In appointing the 80 BTA members, Duterte also named Ebrahim as interim Chief Minister, who formed the BARMM bureaucracy by naming heads and key officials of various ministries and line agencies.
Ebrahim hinted that the President may this time not name him as interim chief minister again because the new BTA members would elect among themselves the BARMM top executive and their Parliament officers.
Earlier, BARMM Ministers Mohagher Iqbal of education and Nagui Sinarimbo of local government had explained that the call for poll postponement and BTA extension was not for the sake of sitting officials but for the retention of a transitional system to fully accomplish the mandates of the CAB and the BARMM Charter known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
Ebrahim’s views at the press conference reflected their desire for continuity of organization transition, not for the retention of incumbent BTA members and bureaucracy or cabinet officials.
Some sectors opposed to a delay in the 2022 poll have been claiming that some incumbents in BTA and BARMM bureaucracy were “good only for receiving hefty salaries, allowances and other subsidies.” (AGM)