by Ali G. Macabalang
The recent appointment of 80 members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the interim ruling body of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, reflected a sweet vindication for both PBBM and the interim officialdom of the BARMM governance, notably the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leadership.
During and after the 2022 election campaign period, the MILF-led BARMM administration persevered in accusations about alleged corruption and malfeasances. Bashings, instigated by local politicians craving to grab power, peaked in the surge of the so-called “MILF-Salamat wing.”
The artificial faction held press conferences to discredit the BARMM leadership, hoping PBBM would appoint its own nominees to the BTA. Top MILF leaders could only issue statements to clarify issues, call for sobriety, and urge the public as well as the detractors to wait for PBMM’s decision.
The brouhaha caused confusion, prompting a delay in PBBM’s appointment of the second batch of BTA members expected to happen as early as in July. It was similar to the way former President Duterte got confused and delayed his signing of R.A. 11593 to reset the 2022 parliament election and extend the BTA lifespan. Dissenting politicians including the instigators of the “Salamat Wing” were also involved in Duterte’s confusion.
The ruckus finally ended when PBBM, walking his talk on unity and healing leadership, appointed the 80 parliament interim members and even swore them in last August 12 in the Palace. I presumed that national officials (like Adviser on Peace Process Carlito Galvez Jr. and others privy to flimsy schemes among local politicos) had guided PBBM in selecting appointees.
For Truth and Peace
PBBM appointed all the 41 MILF nominees and ignored the aspirants from the “Salamat Wing.” More significantly, he reappointed Chairman Ebrahim as interim chief minister. Such a decision bespoke political maturity and love for truth and meaningful peace.
The appointment of 80 MILF and state-selected nominees also fulfilled the expressed desires of Ebrahim and PBBM for “inclusive” representation in the BARMM governance. It should be noted that the MILF chose from sectors like Dr. Jojo Sinolinding, Prof. Eddie Alih and former Mayor Ramon Piang Sr., among others.
On the other hand, PBBM also chose at least 11 nominees from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which is equally a major stakeholder in the Mindanao peace process as signatory in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Final Peace Accord.
PBBM accommodated nominees from both the Sema faction and Misuari founding bloc, bringing to fore an initial step in reconciling and unifying the forces of the MILF and two MNLF groups.
MNLF founding Chair Nur Misuari has possibly ended his non-recognition of an MILF-led entity as indicated by the entry to the BTA of Abdulkarim Tan Misuari and Nurredha Ibrahim Misuari, his children with his late wife Desdemona, and current wife Tarhata, respectively.
As earlier said, the successful appointment of the second batch of 80 BTA members also vindicated PBBM from past insinuations that his senatorial role in the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law his being anti-Muslim or anti-Bangsamoro autonomy.
In published narratives on BBL deliberations in the Senate, then Senator Marcos implied that an exclusion of MNLF forces from creating a new regional autonomy would force him to thumb down the measure. His inclination preceded the infamous Mamasapano, Maguindanao incident on March 25, 2015 that spawned public outrage and buried the BBL in archives.
In a nutshell, the selection of the sent second batch of BTA members which appears inclusive indeed has come as a sweet vindication for the MILF leadership and PBBM from adversarial narratives.
The next step for the MILF, MNLF, and PBBM should be to win back misguided autonomy stakeholders and tap them in building a more meaningful Bangsamoro community. (Comments/reactions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.)