Commentary: UBJP wants elected leaders with “big hearts” for BARMM

By Ali G. Macabalang

I AM SUPPOSED to focus full attention on the wake of our younger sister, who passed away Sunday in what medical workers classified as COVID-19 case under questionable circumstances, and spend time in two or more days to give myself a rest in my over four decades of uninterrupted media work. But I cannot help but write this piece to help laymen understand why the incumbent regional Bangsamoro must play a partisan role in the 2022 polls.

UBJP EXPANDS MEMBERSHIP. Party chairman and BARMM Interim Chief Minister Ahod “Hj. Murad” Ebrahim swears in 11 Maguindanao mayors as UBJP members. (File)

Under normal situation, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) governance need to be impartial in the coming elections where only local and national officials are to be voted – granting that the 1st election of regular BARMM Parliament members is postponed as endorsed by the just-approved Senate and House bills that are expected to be harmonized this week and enacted into law promptly I hope.

The BARMM’s interim administration, which the bills endorse for extension ending in 2025, is led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front MILF) in pursuit of its 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with the State. CAB is legally translated by the R.A. 11054, which was enacted in 2018 and ratified in 2019 to establish BARMM in placement of the 29-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

ARMM was established in 1990 by the Cory Aquino government to replace the two autonomous regions in Western and Central Mindanao, which the Marcos regime created in 1977 or so in unilateral implementation of its 1976 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). Both the autonomous entities had been considered as a “failed experiment” of autonomy. The main reason was “insincerity” among local and national players.

Reigning MILF officials cannot afford to allow a repeat of “failed experiment in the BARMM existence. So, it formed and registered with the Commission on Elections the political body called United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) in May 2015. UBJP was originally exclusive for MILF personalities. But it now embraces non-MILF people, including key bureaucrats in the BARMM governance as well as elected local officials under its domain.

MILF Chairman Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim and front military Chief of Staff Abdulraof “Sammy Gambar” Macacua, both serving as BARMM interim chief minister and senior minister, respectively, lead the UBJP as chairperson and director general. Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, BARMM local government minister, serves as deputy director general of the UBJP.

The UBJP leadership has moved heaven and earth to rally the calls for deferment of the 2022 parliament polls and extension of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) to 2025. It keenly watched efforts that led to the passage of Senate Bill 2214 and House Bill 10121, and discovered what the party tagged as politicians “openly and discretely” opposed to the proposition.

In the Sept. 12 simultaneous conduct of caravans for stakeholders to thank supportive lawmakers, national and local executives, the UBJP renewed vow to showcase “gratitude” to those national and local politicians seeking election in the May 9, 2022 synchronized voting.

For politicians who “openly” opposed or “secretly maneuvered to derail this process and endangered the peace process and sabotaged the implementation of the peace agreement that many of our people labored to achieve over a long period of time, the UBJP said it knows “how to respond in adequate measure when the time comes.”

And the “time” is the May 9, 2022 local and national polls, during which the 170,000-stong UBJP members – mostly based in Maguindanao – will have full focus to campaign for politicians they owed “grateful reciprocation.”

The call for BTA extension is desired by “majority” Bangsamoro people for BARMM to fully deliver its mandates, they want the coming polls to produce local and national leaders who have “big hearts” for and are poised to cooperate closely with the new autonomous governance, the UBJP said.

In a nutshell, the UBJP is just preventing a repeat of the awkward “failed experiment” tag. (AGM)

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