Duterte inclined to allow BARMM to ‘establish’ own ‘armed forces’
MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he would allow the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to have its own armed forces as he urged the region to “assert” its authority against terrorists.
Speaking before agrarian reform beneficiaries from BARMM in Cotabato City, Duterte said the region can organize its own police or military entity for as long as it would “kill the terrorists” in Mindanao.
“Alam mo sa totoo lang when you are already evolved into something which is really a regional at meron kayong sariling armed forces or police, payag ako. Mag-armas kayo but you know you have to kill the terrorists,” Duterte said.
(You know if evolved into something that is really a regional entity, you should have your own armed forces or police—and I will allow that. You armed yourselves but you know you have to kill the terrorists.)
However, under the Bangsamoro charter, the regional government is not allowed to have its own defense force.
Asked for clarification, Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo, said that what the President meant was that BARMM’s security force will still be under the national government and the supervision of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“In other words, kasi ‘yung grupong ‘yan dati nang merong security, (because that group used to have security), in other words, the President will be using that same security group of that particular group but still under the AFP and PNP,” Panelo told reporters in a phone interview.
The President likewise said he wants the region, led by former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim who now sits as Interim Chief Minister, to “assert” its authority against terrorists to avoid the escalation of armed conflict in the country.
“The BARMM government should assert its authority at kung ayaw nila patayin ninyo because those were — they are the guys that will create trouble in the future,” he said.
(The BARMM government should assert its authority and if they do not want to honor you, kill them because they are — they are the guys that will create trouble in the future.)
Duterte, the first Philippine President with Moro blood, said BARMM should take advantage of his remaining years in office to “evolve into something that is a functional regional autonomous government.”
The BARRM, which replaced the poverty- and conflict-stricken Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), was created through the enactment of the Bangsamoro Organic Law—a product of the government’s negotiations with the MILF, whose key members and leaders now leads the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).
The region is facing threats from armed groups like Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters which, according to Ebrahim, have lured young fighters out of financial necessity.
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