By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Regional Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim has urged colleagues and followers to rally all candidates of the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) in the coming elections, warning them expulsion from the party as well as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) if they fail to do so.
The revolutionary leader-turned politico-bureaucrat Ebrahim made the plea cum warning in the presence of estimated 300,000 villagers from different parts of Maguindanao gathered on April 1 for the grand proclamation rally at Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat of UBJP candidates in the province and this city.
The provincial and city slates were led by Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu and journalist-politico Bruce Matabalao, who alongside their teams’ members were officially proclaimed by Ebrahim.
Ebrahim is the interim Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). But he made the stern warning as chairman of the MILF and president of the UBJP.
He reiterated his narratives about the transformation of the MILF from an armed revolutionary body to a political arm in a staunch campaign to stimulate meaningful autonomy as a template for focused regional growth inspired under its peace accord with the government and the BARMM charter or R.A. 11054.
Speaking in the Maguindanaon vernacular, Ebrahim said the UBJP as the MILF official political in its momentary rein in BARMM needs the victory of its candidates to ensure close cooperation among local, regional and national entities and sustain its vision for meaningful Bangsamoro autonomy.
In earlier interviews by the Philippine Muslim Today news, Ebrahim had admitted that the BARMM government was not drawing cooperation from the incumbent city mayor and provincial governor on vital concerns, notably the quest for an extension in the three-year transitional period of the regional government.
Congress and Malacañang approved the extension call through R.A. 11593 last October 28, amending the BARMM charter’s preset regional polls from May 9, 2022 to 2025, with reported opposition from the city mayor and governor.
To ensure close collaboration between regional and local officials, Ebrahim said, it is the mandate for all MILF-BIAF and UBJP members to elect party candidates. Disobeying members will be expelled from both organizations, he said.
BARMM Senior Minister and UBJP Secretary General Abdulraof Macacua explained that the chief minister’s call cum warning was illustrating “organizational discipline” in the MILF-BIAF and the regional party.
“It should not be viewed in repressive context in our democratic society…It is a common practice in all organizations to have a disciplining body,” Macacua, who is also chief-of-staff of the BIAF, told the Philippine Muslim Today and a visiting team from Manila-based DWIZ broadcast network on April 3.
During an earlier UBJP rally here for its city slate, Ebrahim, Macacua, UBJP vice president Mohagher Iqbal and party Deputy Secretary General Naguib Sinarimbo took turns in calling on voters to put up a concerted “fight” against the city hall’s continuing rejection of BARMM through the “power of ballots.”
The four officials narrated instances of adverse consequences of what they decried as “harang system” by which the city leadership has reportedly been banning inflow of relief goods and services from the regional leadership even in the midst of the health pandemic and other emergencies.
At the grand rally in Darapanan, Ebrahim also proclaimed UBJP candidates Bai Sandra Sema for vice governor, Ronnie Sinsuat and Zajid “Dhong” Mangudadatu for congressional reelection, all candidates for board members and mayors in Maguindanao.
He also took time to proclaim Sharifa Akeel-Mangudadatu as candidate for governor in Sultan Kudarat. (AGM)