ARMM turns over power to Bangsamoro authority

John Unson - The Philippine Star
ARMM turns over power to Bangsamoro authority
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman (left) gives Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao interim chief minister Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim a tour of the Office of the Regional Governor compound in Cotabato City during the turnover activities yesterday.
John Unson

COTABATO CITY  , Philippines  —    Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao turned over the ARMM government to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) in a simple but emotional event here yesterday.

The turnover of ARMM to Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim, interim chief minister of BTA, signaled the start of its replacement with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

In an emotional speech, Hataman said he is confident that the BARMM will be a good vehicle for the attainment of lasting peace and sustainable development in its core territory – all five provinces of the ARMM.

“Let us now unite, do away with tribalism, let the Yakans, Maguindanaons, Meranaos, Tausug and Samah people and the lumads unite now under this Bangsamoro government,” Hataman said.

Hataman’s speech was punctuated with chants of “Allahu Akbar” by members of the BTA whom President Duterte swore into office last Friday.

The BARMM will also cover Cotabato City, originally under Region 12. The city will serve as the Bangsamoro regional capital.

Hataman and members of his Cabinet campaigned extensively for the ratification of BARMM’s charter, Republic Act 11054, or the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), during a plebiscite last Jan. 21.

The plebiscite was held in the ARMM’s component-provinces, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and in Cotabato City.

Hataman, whose second term as ARMM governor is to end on June 30 yet, said he has decided not to join the transitory bloc led by Ebrahim so he can return to his home province of Basilan and focus on local humanitarian and security programs meant to complement the fragile peace in the province.

The BARMM is a product of 22 years of peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that Ebrahim leads as figurehead of its central leadership core.

The transition rites were held at the 300-seat Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex inside the 33-hectare ARMM regional capitol in Cotabato City.

The event was facilitated by Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr.

Galvez lauded Hataman for his administration’s governance, infrastructure and socio-economic feats while at the helm of ARMM.

The turnover of ARMM to the MILF-led BTA was witnessed by members of Hataman’s now defunct regional Cabinet and military officials led by Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega of the Western Mindanao Command and the commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana.

Ebrahim, for his part, said his leadership of the BARMM interim parliament will focus on pressing concerns besetting its territory – illiteracy, poverty and corruption in the bureaucracy.

Ebrahim said he will oversee in concurrent capacity the BARMM’s public works ministry.

“I shall be responsible for leading a morally upright government,” the MILF leader said.

Ebrahim said members of the BARMM interim parliament also swore over the Qur’an to shun corruption and tribalism in managing its ministries and in discharging their functions as BTA officials.

The BTA will manage on caretaker basis the BARMM pending the election of its first set of officials in 2022.

A group of learned Muslim leaders said the success or failure of the BTA hinges mainly on how the new Moro leadership handles tribal rivalries and past graft and corrupt practices committed by traditional politicians of the now defunct ARMM.

“Brother Ustadz. You are 100 percent correct that peace and unity must be our top priority but corrupt practices and other criminal offenses perpetrated by traditional politicians must be looked into to give meaning to our efforts in the name of good governance,” the group appealed to Ebrahim.

The group, describing itself as pro-peace and pro-development, also asked Ebrahim to focus on unifying various Muslim tribes and indigenous peoples in Mindanao.

“Uniting these tribes is an uphill battle for the BTA team to accomplish. We are hoping that in three years they can do this job,” a Muslim scholar said.

He specifically cited the decades-old differences between the Maranaos and Tausugs.

He said the Maranaos considered themselves as descendants of royal blood while Tausugs are known warriors.

Tausugs are mostly fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by its founder and former ARMM governor Nur Misuari. The MILF, on the other hand, are mostly Maguindanaons and Maranaos.

“There’s intense rivalry between the two Muslim groups and for the BARMM to succeed these differences must be addressed by BTA team,” the scholar said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has turned over much-needed facilities worth P4.7 million to farmers in the ARMM.

Six hauling trucks and common service facilities were given to agrarian reform beneficiary organizations (ARBO) in the region.

The equipment include six hauling trucks, 35 HP tractors with implements, hand tractors, corn shellers, rice threshers, coffee hullers and coffee roasters.

These were distributed to the 12 ARBOs in the ARMM: four in Maguindanao and two each in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Lanao. 

DAR regional secretary Dayang Carlsum Jumaide said more than 3,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries will benefit from the machineries.

Jumaide added the machinery, provided under the Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services and Climate Resilient Farm Productivity Support Project 2018, will address the farmers’ need for transport of their produce to the market, and improve farm productivity to increase the income of agrarian reform beneficiaries through their organizations.

Agrarian Secretary John Castriciones said this initiative was in line with President Duterte’s orders to extend support services to the agency’s farmer-beneficiaries.  – Jaime Laude,  Rhodina Villanueva



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