COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Local officials find appropriate the inclusion of Abdullah Macapaar into the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).
Hadji Murad Ibrahim, figurehead of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has announced Macapaar, known as the MILF’s renegade Commander Bravo, is among the 41 members of the incoming BTA.
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said Macapaar must participate in governance after fighting the government for more than three decades.
Mangudadatu said the President and the MILF’s top leadership 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.
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Mujiv Hataman said 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 through 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 the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
“We are hoping that the BARMM will sustain all our regional programs meant to foster unity among Muslims, Christians and Lumads in ARMM,” Hataman said.
Osamiz Archbishop Martin Jumoad urged stakeholders to allow Macapaar the opportunity to serve in peace.
“Life is complicated. There are moments when we have to tolerate someone to be part of a group even if we perceive him to be a liability. That is how democracy operates,” Jumoad said.
Jumoad said the people could only hope that the likes of Macapaar may contribute his wisdom which may lead to peace in Bangsamoro areas.
“Thus, we have to welcome him as part of the group. The Almighty knows the ‘why’ of it,” Jumoad added.
The military, for its part, is leaving it to the wisdom of the MILF leaders in including Macapaar in the BTA.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs Office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said the military is throwing its support behind all the peace and reunification initiatives of the MILF following the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
Malacañang said the upcoming members of the BTA, including Macapaar, should learn from the experience of the ARMM, perceived to have been mismanaged due to corruption allegations.
“Because you must remember that there have been complaints about the governance in the previous entities and hopefully this new one, given the fact that they have learned their lessons, I’m sure they will lead this time effectively. Otherwise they will answer to the Muslim people,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
President Duterte is expected to welcome the 80 members of the BTA in Malacañang tomorrow in formal ceremonies.
The peace talks between the government and the MILF, which started on Jan. 7, 1997, culminated with the crafting of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) on March 27, 2014.
The CAB was the basis for the passage of the BOL or Republic Act 11054, the law that created the BARMM.
The BOL will allow the BARMM to replace the ARMM following its ratification in the Jan. 21 plebiscite in ARMM’s five provinces.
The BTA, which Ebrahim will lead on a 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 from the government.