Muslim council of elders urged

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MANILA, Philippines—A civil society group on Saturday called for the inclusion of Muslim traditional leadership in the political structure to be created for the new Bangsamoro political entity, whose basic law is set to be tackled soon by Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) representatives.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/www.opapp.gov.ph

Maradeka, a coalition of Muslim Filipino nongovernment organizations, pushed for the creation of a “council of elders” that would elect a ceremonial head for the Bangsamoro.

The possible composition of the council of elders are “homegrown” leaders such as the Sultans of Sulu, Maguindanao, Buayan and Lanao, as well as leaders of the various Moro tribes, Maradeka secretary-general Nash Pangadapun said in a phone interview.

“The ceremonial head will embody the national values, dignity, heritage and cultural identity of the Moro people as a whole. He can help settle local feuds or rido, rendering solely moral suasion to the government and have no definite functions in running the government,” he told the Inquirer.

Pangadapun said the idea for a ceremonial head was raised at a conference in Makati City last month hosted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), during which foreign experts and observers suggested the replication of the Malaysia model where sultans and rajahs elect for a fixed term the “Yang di Pertuan Agong,” who serves as Malaysia’s head of state.

“We applaud this recommendation because this is a recognition of the Moro ancestors for their role in the centuries-old resistance from colonial rule. Whoever is elected the Paramount Sultan or any other title will serve only as titular and symbolic head of the autonomous government performing only ceremonial functions,” Pangadapun said.

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