MNLF’s political party seeks Comelec's nod to engage in BARMM polls

John Unson - Philstar.com
MNLF�s political party seeks Comelec's nod to engage in BARMM polls
Officials of the Bangsamoro Party of the Moro National Liberation Front filed on June 24, 2024 at the office of the Commission on Elections in Cotabato City its petition for permission to engage in the 2025 first ever parliamentary polls in the autonomous region.
Photo courtesy of Philstar.com / John Unson

COTABATO CITY —The political party of the Moro National Liberation Front on Monday asked for an accreditation from the Commission on Elections to participate in the first-ever 2025 parliamentary elections in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The MNLF’s Bangsamoro Party, most known in BARMM as the BAPA Party, was registered at Comelec's central office as a regional political party more than a year ago and now has more than 200,000 members and supporters across BARMM’s six provinces and three cities.

The president of BAPA, Bangsamoro Labor and Employment Minister Muslimin Sema, and other party officials, among them Abdulgalib Isnani Halud and four members of the 80-seat BARMM parliament, Omar Sema of Cotabato City, Adzfar Usman of Sulu, the province-mates Hatimil Hassan and Muslimin Jakilan of Basilan, on Monday filed their petition for an imprimatur to participate in next year’s first-ever parliamentary polls in the autonomous region. This was filed at the Comelec office in Cotabato City.

The MNLF, which waged a bloody secessionist uprising for more than two decades, forged on Sept. 2, 1996 a final peace compact with Malacañang, brokered by the influential Organization of Islamic Cooperation. This is comprised of more than 50 Muslim countries, including wealthy petroleum-exporting nations in the Middle East and North Africa.

Sema, who is chairman of the MNLF’s central committee, and many other officials of the group, are helping BARMM’s chief minister, Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, manage the peacebuilding and the local community-empowerment programs of the Bangsamoro regional government.

“Sustaining the gains of the Mindanao peace process, more peace and development programs for Mindanao’s Muslim, non-Muslim and indigenous non-Moro communities are among the humanitarian objectives of our party,” Sema said.

The BAPA is popular in BARMM for its markedly strong restraint on members and supporters against attacks on Facebook and other communication platforms, including the print and broadcast media, against other regional political parties in the Bangsamoro region that are supposed to participate in next year's regional elections. 

The BAPA is not hostile either to the United Bangsamoro Justice Party of the Moro Islamic Liberation, whose political figurehead is Ebrahim, who is chairman of the MILF’s central leadership core.

The MILF has a separate peace deal with the national government, the 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and, subsequently, the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, that paved the way for the replacement in 2019 of the then 27-year Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a more politically and administratively empowered BARMM that has agencies being managed by MNLF members.

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