Duterte formally names Murad as BARMM Interim Chief Minister

Robie de Guzman   •   February 22, 2019   •   2833

BARMM Interim Chief Minister Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim |Photo credit: Joey Razon for the Philippine News Agency

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATED) President Rodrigo Duterte has formally named Al Haj Murad Ebrahim as the Interim Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. 

This was announced in a ceremony held in Malacañang on Friday when Duterte led the oath-taking of newly-appointed members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).

As chief minister, Murad will head the 80-member BTA, the body that will govern the BARMM in the first three years. He will exercise executive powers while BTA members will exercise legislative powers.

The appointment of Murad was expected since he was the chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the group who fought for and negotiated peace agreements with the government which eventually led to the enactment of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

Murad is facing the daunting task of leading the BARMM in its critical transition period from 2019 until the election of the regular members of the Bangsamoro Parliament in 2022.

Malacañang has yet to release the names of other BTA members but Abdurahman Macapaar alias ‘Commander Bravo’ has been confirmed to be included on the list.

Macapaar was among the MILF commanders who led the attack on civilian communities in Lanao del Norte in August 2008 after the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), the supposed first deal made between the government and the MILF.

The BARMM was created by virtue of the ratification of the BOL. The new region will be composed of the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Taw-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan and Marawi City as well as Lamitan City, Cotabato City and 63 barangays in North Cotabato, based on the results of the two-part plebiscite held last January 21 and February 6.

The incumbent officials of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which the BARMM replaced, will be included in the BTA until their terms end on June 30, 2019.

President Rodrigo Duterte poses for a photo with newly-appointed BARMM Interim Chief Minister Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and some of the BTA members after their oath-taking at Malacañang on Friday | Photo by Rosalie Coz

In a speech during the oath-taking ceremony, Duterte expressed his hope that the creation of the new Bangsamoro region will lead to lasting peace and development in Mindanao.

“Now that we have realized our aspirations, believe me, we in Mindanao share your values. We share your dreams and aspirations. We share all. But most of all, we would like to see an end of the violence that has rocked Mindanao and have cost so many lives for nothing,” Duterte said.

The President also challenged BTA members to always embody the dreams and aspirations of those who came before them, and to never waver in their commitment.

“As you lead this new region towards a brighter tomorrow, I ask you never to waver in your commitment to build an institution that is founded on the rule of law, the promotion of good governance, and the defense of our most cherished democratic values,” Duterte said.

He also assured the new region of the national government’s support to ensure its success.

The event, considered a historic turning point for the Moro’s long quest towards self-rule in Mindanao, was attended by the leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate, former Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, members of the MILF Central Committee and its ground commanders. Robie de Guzman (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Gov’t eyes special scholarship program for decommissioned MILF combatants

Robie de Guzman   •   November 7, 2019

Agents of an independent decommissioning body inspect surrendered firearms in the town of Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, Philippines, 07 September 2019 (issued 08 September 2019). More than six months after the Bangsamoro Organic Law was ratified in a plebiscite, Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) turned over close to a thousand high-powered firearms to an independent decommissioning body, reports said. 

MANILA, Philippines – The government is eyeing to provide a special scholarship or capacity development program for decommissioned members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and their families.

The program is among the key points provided in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

CHED chairman Prospero de Vera III said the MOU, which was signed last Oct. 30, aims to provide assistance and ensure access to quality tertiary education in the BARMM.

The MOU was inked by De Vera, OPAPP Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., and BARMM Technical Education Minister Mohagher Mohammad Iqbal.

“We are assisting the BARMM consistent with the policy of President (Rodrigo) Duterte that all young Filipinos must have access to quality education and that no qualified student is denied access to education on account of poverty,” De Vera said in a statement.

He added that the implementation of initiatives relating to higher education is consistent with Executive Order No. 79 or the Implementing Annex on Normalization Under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

Aside from providing special scholarship program, the MOU also seeks to do the following:

  • Determine the areas to extend technical assistance to the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) in relation to BARMM higher education institutions (HEI) and the CHED Registry;
  • Capacitate MBHTE in monitoring the compliance of BARMM HEIs with the standards of quality education;
  • Communicate to DSWD the importance of ensuring the inclusion of underprivileged BARMM students and the children of decommissioned MILF combatants and selected beneficiaries from the Six MILF camps in Listahanan 3.0;
  • Encourage the deputized Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program (ETEEAP) HEIs in Mindanao to help children of decommissioned MILF combatants and selected beneficiaries from the six MILF camps to complete their undergraduate study;
  • Offer study grants and capacity-building programs to target beneficiaries, subject to existing laws, rules and regulations and procedures
  • Propose professional development programs to faculty and staff of BARMM HEIs through the available CHED and other national government funds;
  • Mobilize leading HEIs to provide technical assistance to BARMM higher education needs identified by MBHTE;
  • Provide MBHTE with necessary assistance in the creation of a tribal university system;
  • Assist MBHTE with the necessary technical assistance in the crafting of the Education Code.

Galvez, for his part, said they are requesting Congress to allocate funds for the implementation of the scholarship program for the decommissioned combatants.

“I hope that through this agreement, we shall be able to reach out to those students residing in the ‘last mile’ areas, the underserved and most especially, the children of decommissioned MILF combatants. We are committed to supporting them until they achieve their full potentials,” he said.

Galvez believes the recipients of this program will eventually become the next leaders of the BARMM and strong advocates of peace and moral governance.

DILG mapping out ways to help in BARMM transition process

Robie de Guzman   •   September 10, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte inspects the decommissioned firearms from the former combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front during their decommissioning at the Old Provincial Capitol Compound in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on September 7, 2019. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday said it is currently mapping out ways on how to effectively provide technical assistance to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) as it undergoes transition.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año assured his department will provide assistance to the interim regional government of BARMM especially police support for the maintenance of peace and order as it undergoes the normalization phase.

“We have prepared a road map on how best we can assist the BARMM. We want to help in meeting the objectives of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and that is to allow the Bangsamoro to have a meaningful self-governance within the framework of the Constitution and territorial integrity of the country,” he said.

“We will make sure that the DILG exercises judiciously its general supervision over BARMM,” he added.

The DILG said normalization is the process through which communities affected by the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao can return to social life and pursue sustainable development livelihoods free from fear of violence and crime.

“The DILG will see to it that we implement what the law mandates, particularly the BOL, which says that the Philippine National Police (PNP) shall create a Police Regional Office in BARMM for the primary purpose of law enforcement and maintenance of peace and order,” Año said.

“We shall also see to it that members of the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front shall be admitted to the police force within five years of the BOL’s ratification,” he added.

Last Saturday (Sept. 7), President Rodrigo Duterte witnessed the decommissioning of more than 900 guns and 1,060 combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

During the decommissioning rites as part of a peace treaty, Duterte urged the MILF to set aside differences and avoid further conflict with the government.

He also provided socio-economic assistance to decommissioned MILF fighters and assured support for former Moro rebels’ transition to civilian life

DILG chief Año hailed the MILF’s sincerity in the peace agreement with the government.

“I am honored to witness the realization of peace in Muslim Mindanao that seemed elusive and bleak in the past decades. The clamor before was to give peace a chance,” he said.

“Now, we can finally move on to the development phase of the region for its people to catch up with the rest of the country,” he added.

Bomb signature used in Patikul Bombing, same with what ASG uses – PNP BARMM

Maris Federez   •   August 14, 2019

Authorities secure the area outside a church following a bombing incident at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Jolo last January 27, 2019. (Photo: Armed Forces of the Philippines – Western Mindanao Command)

The Philippine National Police-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PNP-BARMM) office is looking into the possibility that the group of Abu Sayyaf leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan could be the one behind the series of bombings in Sitio Tibongbong, Barangay Igasan in Patikul, Sulu on Tuesday (Aug. 13).

PRO-BARMM director PBGen. Marni Marcos said the bombs used in the bombing at the Jolo Cathedral, at a military camp in Sulu and in Patikul bear the same signature.

Based on the shredded pipe gathered at the bomb site, same type of pipes were used as bomb cylinder.

“Sino ba yung nagpe-perpetrate ng mga ganyang terrorist act in the area? Iisa lang naman yung grupong binabantayan natin [Who else would perpetrate such terrorist acts in the area? There’s only one group that we are monitoring],” said Marcos.

Nevertheless, the police are still conducting a thorough investigation to ascertain whether some groups are copying Sawadjaan’s style.

Gen. Marcos will also meet the local chief executives in Sulu to ask them to encourage their constituents to cooperate with the authorities in their investigation on the said series of bombings.

He added that they will also talk with the Ulama in the area.

“Yung concern natin sa terrorism yung landscape niyan ay nag iba na. Meron na tayong Filipino suicide bomber. And worst is, mga bata o young people yung nire-recruit (What we are concerned about is that the terrorism landscape has already changed.  We now have Filipino suicide bombers. And worst is, they are recruiting the young people),” Marcos said.

“We should involve everybody. Hindi lang military o law enforcement unit ngayon ang inaano natin because it involves yung education, ano yung teaching at ano ba talaga yung tamang ituturo natin sa mga bata [We are not just focusing on military or law enforcement because it also involves education. What are the things that we should really teach the children],” he added.

Meanwhile, PNP chief PGen. Oscar Albayalde has admitted that there is a problem with security in the area and that they need the help and cooperation of the community.

“We have to be alert always.  Very important po ang participation ng community dito. Napaka importante ng impormasyon na ibibigay ng community dito para maubos at matigil na ang insidente na ito sa ating bayan [The community’s participation is very important. The information that the community will provide us is very important in curbing or stopping these incidents in our country],” the PNP chief said.

A member of the 43rd K9 Platoon of the Philippine Army was among the injured in Tuesday’s Patikul bombing. (with details from Lea Ylagan) /mbmf

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