'Not unconstitutional': BARMM gov't reacts to Locsin's tweet over meetings with Turkey
In this Oct. 18, 2018 photo, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. represents President Rodrigo Duterte at the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit and EU-ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting in Brussels, Belgium.
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'Not unconstitutional': BARMM gov't reacts to Locsin's tweet over meetings with Turkey
John Unson (Philstar.com) - December 27, 2019 - 12:34pm

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — The December 11 to 16 dialogues between Bangsamoro Chief Minister Hadji Ahod Ebrahim and Turkish officials in Ankara, Turkey were not unconstitutional, a senior regional official said Saturday.

Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, local government minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said the engagements were, in fact, held in the presence of representatives from the Philippine diplomatic corps assigned in Turkey.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin on Friday insinuated on Twitter the possibility of filing a diplomatic protest against Turkey and charges against BARMM officials for the meetings that he said was “a slap on Philippine sovereignty.” The post was already deleted.

Turkey, a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of more than 50 Muslim states, including petroleum-exporting countries in the Middle East and North Africa, is a benefactor of the current peace overture between Malacañang and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Ebrahim, an appointed BARMM chief minister, is MILF’s grand figurehead who acts as chairperson of the group’s central committee.  

The creation of BARMM was premised on two peace compacts between the government and the MILF, the 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and, subsequently, the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, products of 22 years of peace talks that Malaysia, an OIC member-state, helped broker.

Turkey leads the International Decommissioning Body in the forefront of the MILF and the national government’s gradual deactivation of Moro rebels and collection of their firearms to hasten restoration of normalcy in southern provinces affected by decades of secessionist strife.

Sinarimbo said Ebrahim traveled to Ankara for the meetings with Turkish government officials with full imprimatur from President Rodrigo Duterte.   

“The travel of the Chief Minister was upon the invitation of the Government of Turkey and he was given authority to travel abroad by the Office of the President of the Philippines,” Sinarimbo said.

He said Bangsamoro regional officials are certain the Turkish government will not ruin the southern Mindanao peace process it has been supporting for a long time by inviting Ebrahim for official functions in Ankara in a manner transgressing the diplomatic ties between Turkey and the Philippines.

“There is an inter-governmental relations mechanism that should have been the venue for resolving the confusion and misunderstanding on the Chief Minister’s travel to Turkey,” Sinarimbo said.

The inter-governmental relations body was jointly established by Malacanang and BARMM in support of measures meant to ensure strong governance cooperation between both sides. 

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