The BTA will supervise the transition from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to the newly created Bangsamoro ARMM.
Michael Varcas
MILF’s Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim named BARMM transition chief
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - February 23, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — From being the leader of separatist rebels, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim is now the interim head of the newly created Bangsamoro Transition Authority or BTA.

The BTA will supervise the transition from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to the newly created Bangsamoro ARMM.

Swearing in the transition team last night at Malacañang, President Duterte urged the BTA to work for the speedy decommissioning of the MILF.

“Always work for the best interest and welfare, not only of the Bangsamoro people, but every Filipino who lives in that region,” Duterte told BTA officials and some 500 people gathered in the Rizal Hall.

“I trust that you will oversee the transition period to the best of your abilities, especially in the decommissioning of firearms and former combatants,” he said.

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo together with Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Aquilino Pimentel III and Richard Gordon, former peace adviser Jesus Dureza and key personalities involved in the crafting of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) were present at the oathtaking.

While the road to peace had been long and tortuous, Duterte said he is “glad that we have finally reached its endpoint.”

The BOL mandates the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“My only hope is that we put to rest the bitter memories of the past so that we can build a new region that is bound not by ethnic or religious affiliation, but by a common aspiration for peaceful coexistence among our fellow Filipinos,” he said.

He also stressed that the establishment of BARMM is not just the fulfillment of a campaign promise.

“It will be the realization of our collective desire. It will be the realization of all our dreams and end long decades of armed struggle that hindered the growth of the region I also consider my home,” Duterte said.

He expressed hope that genuine peace and development in the region is within reach.

“Now that we have realized our aspirations, believe me, we in Mindanao share our values, we would like to see an end to violence that has led to nothing,” the Chief Executive said.

The Bangsamoro people, he emphasized, are assured of comfort and protection in the exercise of rule of law under his administration.

“I give you my word of honor,” he said, citing what he called were fruits of several meetings and long nights of discussions that preceded the crafting of BOL. 

“Today, I thank Allah for his mercy and for his understanding of his people,” he added.

With the BOL in place, he said the Bangsamoro people stand to benefit more from their land’s bounty and resources. 

“I hope that we can end this... and I assure you, there is one contentious issue, resources, it’s also yours,” he said, referring to the Linguasan Marsh that he vowed would benefit Mindanaoans.

“We do away with greed. We do away with oppression and especially we try. We can always try; sometimes it can be done, sometimes it cannot be reached. But I pray that we will end the hate that pervaded our lives for so many years,” the President said.

He ended his speech with “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great) to trumpet his commitment to the cause of Muslim Filipinos.

MILF peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal and MILF brigadier commander Abdullah Goldiano Makapaar bin Sabbar – also known as Commander Bravo – joined other Muslim leaders in witnessing last night the ceremonial declaration of the BOL plebiscite canvass results by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Earlier in the evening, Duterte also swore in the 80 members of the BTA, formed to serve as interim government of BARMM.

They will administer BARMM for three years or until new elected officials take over in 2022.

He also acknowledged the role of Dureza in attaining peace in Mindanao as presidential adviser on the peace process before former military chief Carlito Galvez took over his post.

“The courage and determination of the Bangsamoro will not be in vain as the administration works for the realization of the peaceful cohabitation of Muslims and Christians in Mindanao,” he said.

The BTA is composed of representatives from various Muslim and non-Muslim groups, indigenous peoples, women, youth, settler communities and traditional leaders.

Galvez said yesterday’s event “marks another major step towards the long-held aspiration of our Moro brothers and sisters for genuine and meaningful autonomy.”

“Through the BTA, the Bangsamoro people shall have a stronger voice and have the power to chart their own course of development,” Galvez said in his speech.

Galvez said the approval and eventual ratification is a concrete manifestation of the people’s overwhelming support for the future of the BARMM government.

Comelec chairman Sheriff Abbas presented results showing voters’ support for BOL during the recent plebiscite.

In a message, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana called on every Filipino to support the peace agenda.

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