COTABATO CITY — Public officials find as appropriate the inclusion of the feared warrior Abdullah Macapaar into the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.
Hadji Murad Ibrahim, figurehead of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, has announced that Macapaar, most known as MILF’s renegade Commander Bravo, is among the 41 members of the incoming BTA.
The National Bureau of Investigation has reportedly cleared Macapaar from any criminal case that could constrain President Rodrigo Duterte from appointing him as BTA member.
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, a staunch supporter of the peace efforts of Malacañang and the MILF, reporters via text message Wednesday that Macapaar must participate in governance after fighting the government for more than three decades.
Mangudadatu said President Rodrigo Duterte and the MILF’s top leadership core must have agreed bilaterally on Macapaar’s inclusion in the BTA.
“President Duterte knows best. We believe in his sincerity in resolving the Moro issue. We believe in his propensity to address concerns and issues regarding the peace process,” Mangudadatu said.
“Commander Bravo now wants to get involved in governance as the better means of addressing the problems besetting the Bangsamoro homeland. What is wrong with that? We should be happy that from being a warrior he would be working in the BTA as statesman,” Mangudadatu said.
Macapaar, a Meranao, and the radical cleric Ameril Ombra Kato, an ethnic Maguindanaon, led bloody attacks in the provinces of Lanao del Norte and in North Cotabato, respectively, after the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain in 2008 that Malacañang and the MILF crafted the year before.
The document was the supposed basis for the creation of a Bangsamoro political entity asymmetrical in stature with the national government.
The High Tribunal junked the draft agreement based on petitions by various groups and political leaders citing the unconstitutionality of many of its provisions.
Kato, who was censured by the MILF central committee for leading a mutiny in protest of the Supreme Court’s decision, bolted in 2009 and organized the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, or BIFF, a year later.
The BIFF, blamed for all the deadly bombings since, now operates in the fashion of the Islamic State.
The peace talks between the government and the MILF, which started on January 7, 1997, culminated with the crafting on March 27, 2014 of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, or CAB.
The CAB was the basis for the passage of the Republic Act 11054, or the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the charter of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, or BARMM.
The BOL will pave the way for the replacement of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with an MILF-led BARMM.
The BTA, which Ebrahim will lead on caretaker basis, will manage the transfer of powers from ARMM to BARMM.
The BTA shall be comprised of 41 representatives from the MILF, among them Macapaar, and more than 30 more from the government.
The now outgoing regional governor of ARMM, Mujiv Hataman, said Thursday there is nothing wrong with enlisting Macapaar into the BTA.
Hataman said the MILF leadership functions as a collegial body and formulates policies and organizational decisions via consensus-building.
“In peace processes we do back bending, reintegration and reconciliation. That is why we have this Mindanao peace process that is an inclusive kind of peace process. Unification of all sectors that are to benefit from it is so important,” Hataman said.
Hataman said he and members of the ARMM regional cabinet are now ready to turn over their offices to BARMM.
“We are hoping that the BARMM will sustain all our regional programs meant to foster unity among Muslims, Christians and Lumads in ARMM,” said Hataman, who also campaigned extensively for the ratification of the BOL during the January 21 plebiscite in ARMM’s five provinces.