Marcos vows peace, ‘historical justice’ for Bangsamoro
COTABATO CITY — President Marcos paid tribute to the sacrifices of Moro revolutionaries that fueled their dream of self-governance during his late father’s regime, while calling on new and old Bangsamoro leaders to unite to bring lasting peace to Mindanao.
“We set our feet before this place and herald the trials that you have won through courage, certainty and noble bravery,” Marcos told the inaugural session of the 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex here on Thursday.
“The path to lasting peace is always under construction. But we walk this path not because it is an easy one,” the President said.
“We walk this path together because even if it is difficult, we know that at the end of the journey is historical justice, progress, peace, stability and the unity that our peoples and our nation … so rightly deserve,” he said.
The new BTA members he appointed last month will serve until duly elected members of the Bangsamoro parliament shall have assumed office on June 30, 2025.
The BTA serves as the interim government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), seen as an embodiment of the 50-year struggle of the Moro people to run their own affairs.
The BARMM was created after its charter, the Bangsamoro Organic Law, was ratified in a plebiscite in January 2019. Last year, Congress heeded calls to postpone the scheduled election, extending the BTA’s life by three more years.
In reconstituting the BTA, Marcos appeared to have achieved a breakthrough by bringing three Moro separatist factions under one roof.
These are the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) factions led by founding chair Nur Misuari, and another led by his former top lieutenant Muslimin Sema, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The Moro rebels were under the MNLF banner when they started to wage battles with the government of then President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. in 1972. A group led by Salamat Hashim broke away in 1977, becoming the MILF in 1984. Another faction, led by Sema, splintered off in 2001.
On Thursday, the factions welcomed the son of the late dictator whose brutal rule pushed them to rebellion 50 years ago.
“As your President, I assure you, the BTA and all the Bangsamoro people, of this administration’s full and unwavering commitment to the peace process and to the [BARMM],” Marcos said.
Interim Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim, the MILF chief, presided over the session.
Misuari was a guest, seated next to the President, along with Sema, who was attending as the BARMM’s labor minister.
Ebrahim assured Marcos that his group had been reaching out to former comrades in the MNLF to discuss future cooperation.
“We may have our differences in terms of strategies and means, but at the end of the day, we are bound by our common goal and ultimately our fate,” he said.
Of the 80 members, 41 were nominated by the MILF while 39 by the government.
Of the government nominees, 15 are MNLF members, eight coming from the Sema faction, and seven from Misuari’s.
Notable among Marcos’ BTA appointees are the children of Misuari—Abdulkarim Misuari and Nurrheda Misuari; Abdullah Hashim, eldest son of MILF founder Salamat Hashim; lawyer Omar Yasser Sema, son of Muslimin Sema; and Albakil Jikiri, son of the late former MNLF military chief, Yusoph Jikiri.
While Sema’s faction joined the MILF in running the BARMM in 2019, it was Misuari’s first time to do so.
Marcos’ entourage included Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., Special Assistant to the President Antonio Lagdameo and Supreme Court Associate Justice Japar Dimaampao. During the session, the BTA members elected lawyer Pangalian Balindong, a veteran Maranao politician, as Speaker, a post he held in the previous BTA.
Others elected were Hatimil Hassan, Nabil Tan, Omar Yasser Sema, Lanang Ali Jr., Paisalin Tago, Abdulkarim Misuari, and Benjamin Loong as deputy speakers, and Sha Elijah Dumama-Alba as majority floor leader. —WITH REPORTS FROM JEROME ANING, INQUIRER RESEARCH AND RYAN D. ROSAURO
Marcos tells BTA: Gains in BARMM impressive, but more remains to be done
Marcos calls for unity of all Bangsamoro leaders
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