Macacua wants to make Maguindanao Norte top BARMM province, urges dissenters to go to Supreme Court

By Ali G. Macabalang

COTABATO CITY – Maguindanao del Norte OIC-Governor Abdulraof A. Macacua on Tuesday said he accepted his Presidential appointment as a challenge to make the infant province a “Number One” component of the Bangsamoro autonomous region, even as he dared dissenting quarters to bring to the Supreme Court their objection.

READ ALSO: Maguindanao del Norte OIC Governor to critics: ‘Go to Supreme Court’

Macacua, known as “Sammy Gambar or Sammy Almansoor” in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), explained his stance as trustee of President Bongbong Marcos in Maguindanao del Norte during his maiden press conference and in an exclusive interview here with the Philippine Muslim Today news Tuesday morning.

The press briefing and the interview were held at a building along Sinsuat Avenue here which Macacua designed as satellite office of Maguindanao del Norte while trying to form the organization structure of the new LGU amid growing opposition by political quarters led by fellow OIC-Governor Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu of Maguindanao del Sur.

President Marcos appointed Macacua and Mangudadatu as OIC-governors of the northern and southern provinces, respectively, on April 5. He subsequently swore in Macacua at a formal ceremony at the Malacanang Palace.

Sangki-Mangudadatu did not attend the event. Instead, she went on a live broadcast in April to herald her statement, protesting the Presidential decision and citing legal bases alleging absence of authority by the Chief Executive to appoint OIC-governors in the newly created Maguindanao provinces.

She said there was “no room” for the President to designate OIC governors because she and Ainee Limbona-Sinsuat had already assumed as governors of Maguindanao Sur and Maguindanao Norte, respectively, last October in view of their election as governor and vice governor of the then undivided Maguindanao in May 2022.

After expressing a “strong” objection to the designation of Macacua and recalling that it was her “Family Alliance” bloc that led Marcos’ Presidential candidacy in 2022, Sangki-Mangudadatu pleaded for the Chief Executive to reconsider his decision.

A few hours after the issuance of the Presidential designations, the Department of National Defense and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process, Unity, and Reconciliation published a joint statement congratulating the appointed OICs and urging stakeholders to respect the Presidential decision for the sake of peace and stability in the Maguindanao provinces, in particular, and in the autonomous region, in general.

Undermining Presidential wisdom

In his press conference and our interview, Macacua asked the public, notably the dissenters, not to undermine the Presidential decision, which he said underwent consultations and legal review by national officials prior to the issuance of the April 5 designations.

He pointed out that he did not apply for the designation, which in reality he said came as a sort of “demotion” in his stature as Senior Minister vested with the power to supervise the operations of all ministries of the Bangsamoro autonomous governance covering six provinces, three cities and over 2,500 barangays.

Emphasizing that he neither dreamed of becoming a governor, Macacua said he heeded the Presidential decision as a challenge for him to prove that a former MILF combat official like him can be trusted to manage a government unit.

Macacua categorically declared that in the event that dissenting quarters are able to obtain a Supreme Court ruling against his designation, he would readily step down.

For the moment, Macacua lauded the expressed support of the majority of the 12 elected mayors in Maguindanao del Norte who even witnessed his oath-taking in Malacañang.

He especially expressed gratitude to the President and his cabinet members for his appointment, saluting as well Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim for agreeing with the Presidential decision.

Concurrent capacity

In the interview, Macacua explained that pending his replacement as BARMM senior minister via appointment by the Chief Minister of his successor, he would continue serving as senior minister in a concurrent capacity. (AGM)


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