How did stakeholders in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao react to the recent appointment of members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority? They were divided. Comments were along political and tribal lines. The civil society groups which advocated for strict vetting were dismayed that their recommendation was ignored. Tribes who were unrepresented or underrepresented were not happy.

Hardly had the signature of the President on the appointments dried than the Salamat Wing of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front asked for an accounting of BARMM funds and a lifestyle check of BTA members. This manifests that the wound inflicted on their ego for being ignored by the national leadership in the appointment of Deputies is far from being healed. They vowed to be a watchdog over the regional government. There were questions, likewise, why some with sterling bona fides and performance were not reappointed.

Observers refer to Members of Parliament Safrullah Dipatuan, M.D., former Minister of Health; lawyer Hamid Barra, Minister in a Special Committee for the Rehabilitation of Marawi, and another lawyer, Maisarah Latiph, who had contributed much in the drafting of the basic codes of governance of BARMM, who were not reappointed. Many attested to their outstanding performance as MPs.

This brings us to the question on why were they not reappointed. Did they step on the toes of some BARMM leaders? Are they not “team players”? Was there a process in the selection of Deputies on the government side? How was the selection conducted? Were there criteria laid down? What were the considerations? Was it tribal representations, educational qualifications, past advocacies, performance, etc.? The fact that former MPs Safrullah and Barra were given the Health and the Marawi Rehabilitation portfolio is prima facie indication that they are competent and qualified to be Deputies. The non-appointment of these three Maranaws reduced considerably the representation of a major tribe and upsets the balance of ethnic representation, one of the core tenets observed in the BARMM governance.

Have they pivoted from the policy trajectory of the BARMM leadership that they were punished with non-appointment?

The profile of the appointees will show that recommendees of some local political leaders were not accommodated for appointment. For instance, was there consultation with Governor Bombit Adiong on who will replace former MP Zia Adiong, who ran and won as congressman? In Maguindanao, was there consultation with Governor Maryam Mangudadatu or political kingpin Suharto Teng Mangudadatu on the appointment of Maguindanaons outside of the MILF members? Remember, the two provinces of Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao represent statistically more than one-half of the population of the region. Was Governor Jim Sallman of Basilan engaged in the process? This will not augur well for the future of the BARMM.

Can BARMM succeed without the support of the local government units? The ideal move should have been a proper coordination and consultation with the local leaders. If the result of the last election is a barometer of the popularity of the BARMM leadership, then, as pointed out by the MILF Salamat Wing, the MILF-BARMM leadership does not command the support of the majority of the stakeholders.

They alluded to the BARMM leadership supporting a presidential candidate who lost in the BARMM areas, which manifest undoubtedly the effete support of the people.

Some see retired General Carlos Galvez, Presidential Assistant for Peace Reconciliation and Unity, as having a big say in the appointments, being the point person of Malacañang that oversees the operation of the BARMM. Also, Senate President Miguel Zubiri is emerging as a strong power broker in the new dispensation for having lobbied for the appointment of the new BTA members.

Lawyer Faizal Padate, one of the leading lights of the local Bar, has this to say: “In these trying times, educational degrees, honesty and integrity ought to give way, if only to achieve stability.”

Readers, let’s give a chance to the new BTA to prove its worth. Theirs is a tall order and they need support.


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