By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Revolutionary leader Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, more known as “Al Haj Murad,” has called anew for positive collaboration between the Bangsamoro autonomous governance and its constituent Local Government units (LGUs) to ensure the success of the new autonomy for the greater majority in all sectors.
In reiterating his plea through a recent statement, Ebrahim said he was speaking as chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and head of the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP), not as interim chief minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The UBJP, originally organized in 2015 as official political party of the MILF, has fielded full-slate candidates to face in next year’s elections Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi and Maguindanao Governor Mariam Sangkin-Mangudadatu refused to sign a covenant of cooperation forged for presentation to President Duterte early this year, according to Ebrahim.
Such covenant was reportedly inspired by the President to indicate a consensus among regional, city and provincial leaders within BARMM at the height of debates over the proposed extension in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) lifespan to 2025 by way of postponement in the 2022 election of regular BTA members.
Despite open and covert opposition to the proposal by Mayor Sayadi, Gov. Mangudadatu backed by husband Sultan Kudarat Gov. Suharto “Teng” Mangudadatu, Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman, Congress passed and ratified an enabling bill signed last October 28 by the President as R.A. 11593.
Ebrahim said the covenant was signed by Governors Mamintal Alonto-Adiong Jr. of Lanao del Sur, Jim Hataman-Salliman of Basilan, Ysmael Sali of Tawi-Tawi-Tawi, and other BARMM constituent elected leaders.
In a recent virtual interview with the Bangsamoro Press Corps (BPC), Sulu Gov. Tan admitted being advised by the President to tone down his dissent against the BARMM governance and its call for extended transition period after his refusal to sign the covenant.
Gov. Tan gladly disclosed having no rival candidates in next year’s polls for his reelection bid and those of his sitting children.
Mayor Sayadi and Gov. Sangki-Mangudadatu in separate online statements complained about the possibility of BARMM government resources’ use in the campaign for the UBJP candidates in this city and Maguindanao.
In another exclusive interview with the Philippine Muslim Today news, Chief Minister Ebrahim and Senior Minister Abdulraof “Sammy Gambar” Macacua had assured that no “single cent” from the BARMM government coffer will be spent for the UBJP candidates in this city and Maguindanao.
The UBJP has fielded a full city slate here led by councilor Mohammad-Ali “Bruce” Matabalao as mayoral candidate and a provincial slate in Maguindanao led by Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu as gubernatorial bet.
Macacua, MILF-Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) chief of staff and UBJP secretary-general, said their party will mobilize resources for a “fair” support to the city and provincial slates. But he pointed out that in the case of Rep. Mangudadatu, he needed no fiscal support because he has his own money.
BARMM Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo, speaking as UBJP deputy secretary-general, had explained that their political party was “returning favor” for Rep. Mangudadatu for his active support to the BARMM transition extension campaign capped by his sponsorship of the House enabling bill.
In his online statement as MILF and UBJP chieftain, Ebrahim called on their grass-root members and supporters to rally the candidacies of Matabalao and Rep. Mangudadatu as a requisite for positive rapport between the BARMM governance and the LGUs in this city and Maguindanao.
“I appeal to you…as Chairman of MILF and President of UBJP na tulungan ninyo kami (sa 2022 eleksyon),” he told their members and supporters in Maguindanao and this city.
“Kailangan maganda yung coordination natin sa mga local government, kailangan kasundo natin sila,” Ebrahim said as he pointed that his administration’s policy of cordiality.
Ebrahim said the intentions for peace and progress provided for in the 2014 MILF peace accord with the Philippine government cannot be realized without the presence of cooperation between the regional administration and the LGUs under its jurisdiction. (AGM)