Governors form group to push Bangsamoro concerns
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—Five provincial governors of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) have formalized what used to be a loose consultative group in order to gain leverage with regional and national leaders in a bid to attract policy attention on key issues affecting the region.
Governors Mamintal Adiong Jr. of Lanao del Sur, Bai Mariam Mangudadatu of Maguindanao del Sur, Hadjiman Hataman-Salliman of Basilan, Abdusakur Tan of Sulu, and Yshmael Sali of Tawi-Tawi launched here on Tuesday the BARMM Governors Caucus (BGC) which they said is “a platform that will advocate and promote the issues our constituents have identified as critical and important.”
“The Caucus will engage in dialogue [toward] greater cooperation and collaboration with the national and regional governments and multisectoral groups,” the manifesto of the five governors read.
“The Caucus is committed to support the peace process and the BARMM,” it added.
Adiong, who described the four other governors as his “close allies and friends,” played host to the gathering which included mayors and other political leaders, many of them from Maguindanao del Sur and Lanao del Sur provinces.
The BGC, he said, will ensure that the “concerns of our constituents can be placed on the table for our leaders to consider.”
Of the five, Salliman was absent but was represented by Maluso Mayor Hanie Bud, president of Basilan’s League of Municipalities.
Mangudadatu told reporters that the BGC was organized by the region’s elected governors, hence the conspicuous absence of Maguindanao del Norte Gov. Abdulraof Macacua from the gathering.
The loose grouping of Adiong, Sali, Mangudadatu, Salliman and Tan started in 2021 when they came up with a unified position on the three-year extension of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority by postponing to 2025 the parliamentary elections in the region.
They also spoke with one voice on issues relating to the enactment by the parliament of an electoral code.
Following the Feb. 17 ambush in Maguing town of the seven-vehicle convoy of Adiong from Marawi City to Wao town, Sali, Salliman, Mangudadatu and Tan called on President Marcos to postpone the holding of village and Sanguniang Kabataan elections until the roots of political violence were addressed. They strongly called for the fast-tracking of the decommissioning of former combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which signed a peace deal with the government in 2014.
The governors’ manifesto pointed to strengthening the rule of law and democratic institutions, keeping peace and order, and ensuring inclusive governance and development as key issues that the BGC would espouse.
Lanao del Sur Rep. Zia Adiong hopes the BGC will become a potent instrument in focusing political and policy attention on issues strongly felt by the people in the BARMM.