Anxiety in interim BARMM Parliament

PUNCHLINE

by Ali G. Macabalang

Anxiety remains high among appointed members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the interim ruling body of the fledgling Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

All of the 80 BTA members, except those who were elected in various positions in this year’s polls, continue serving on holdover capacity after President Duterte did not exercise discretion in an emendatory law allowing him to replace or reappoint his appointees in 2019.

Ostensibly, all appointees of President Duterte hold coterminous status with their benefactor. It is now up for new President Bongbong Marcos (PBBM) to retain or appoint new BTA members. His office has reportedly waited for a shortlist of nominees from both the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government.side. 

The BTA leadership in a recent press conference urged the new President to be “mindful” of the mandate of R.A. 11054 (the BARMM charter) and the 2014 MILF-GPH pact called Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

The BARMM Charter and CAB prescribe for the appointment of BTA members on a 41-39 ratio between MILF and government nominees to ensure the temporal leadership of the MILF in the transitional operation of the autonomous regional governance.

New appointed members of the 80-seat BTA shall elect among themselves their parliamentary officers including the key positions in the BARMM cabinet led by a chief minister, a position currently occupied by MILF Chair Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim.

But there have been rumors that prominent political leaders, who campaigned for BBM in the recent elections, would insist on their entry to the BTA. Rumored to be likely nominees to the BTA were Sulu re-elected Governor Sakur Tan and former Sultan Kudarat Governor Soharto “Teng” Mangudadatu. Both officials campaigned for PBBM.

In at least two earlier video-recorded interviews, Ex-Gov. Mangudadatu publicly prominently announced intention to vie for appointment not only as a BTA member but as BARMM chief minister.

The pronouncement has since shaped up anxiety among incumbent BTA members, who mostly campaigned for Vice President Leni Robredo in the 2022 Presidential election.

But MILF-nominated BTA members led by Ebrahim were confident that the Marcos administration will abide by the mandate of law and the 2014 peace agreement.

Stakeholders of regional autonomy could only remain anxious until PBBM shall have appointed people to compose the interim parliamentary body. The regular members of the parliament will be elected in an election in time with the 2025 local and national polls.

(Comments or reactions to this column may be sent to alimac.bulletin@gmail.com.)   

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