COTABATO CITY , Philippines — Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao turned over the ARMM government to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) in a simple but emotional event here yesterday.
The turnover of ARMM to Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim, interim chief minister of BTA, signaled the start of its replacement with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
In an emotional speech, Hataman said he is confident that the BARMM will be a good vehicle for the attainment of lasting peace and sustainable development in its core territory – all five provinces of the ARMM.
“Let us now unite, do away with tribalism, let the Yakans, Maguindanaons, Meranaos, Tausug and Samah people and the lumads unite now under this Bangsamoro government,” Hataman said.
Hataman’s speech was punctuated with chants of “Allahu Akbar” by members of the BTA whom President Duterte swore into office last Friday.
The BARMM will also cover Cotabato City, originally under Region 12. The city will serve as the Bangsamoro regional capital.
Hataman and members of his Cabinet campaigned extensively for the ratification of BARMM’s charter, Republic Act 11054, or the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), during a plebiscite last Jan. 21.
The plebiscite was held in the ARMM’s component-provinces, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and in Cotabato City.
Hataman, whose second term as ARMM governor is to end on June 30 yet, said he has decided not to join the transitory bloc led by Ebrahim so he can return to his home province of Basilan and focus on local humanitarian and security programs meant to complement the fragile peace in the province.
The BARMM is a product of 22 years of peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that Ebrahim leads as figurehead of its central leadership core.
The transition rites were held at the 300-seat Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex inside the 33-hectare ARMM regional capitol in Cotabato City.
The event was facilitated by Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr.
Galvez lauded Hataman for his administration’s governance, infrastructure and socio-economic feats while at the helm of ARMM.
The turnover of ARMM to the MILF-led BTA was witnessed by members of Hataman’s now defunct regional Cabinet and military officials led by Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega of the Western Mindanao Command and the commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana.
Ebrahim, for his part, said his leadership of the BARMM interim parliament will focus on pressing concerns besetting its territory – illiteracy, poverty and corruption in the bureaucracy.
Ebrahim said he will oversee in concurrent capacity the BARMM’s public works ministry.
“I shall be responsible for leading a morally upright government,” the MILF leader said.
Ebrahim said members of the BARMM interim parliament also swore over the Qur’an to shun corruption and tribalism in managing its ministries and in discharging their functions as BTA officials.
The BTA will manage on caretaker basis the BARMM pending the election of its first set of officials in 2022.