Muslimin Sema, chair of a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front says the prospect for peace is “very bright” under the Duterte administration. MIndaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

MNLF leader backs term extension for Bangsamoro Transition Authority

COTABATO CITY, PHILIPPINES (November 26, 2020) — A faction of the Moro National Liberation Front favors a three-year extension of the terms of appointed Bangsamoro officials under a chief minister from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The tenure of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim — also known as Al Haj Murad — and of 79 other members of the BARMM parliament whom President Rodrigo Duterte appointed last year is valid only until 2022.

MNLF Chairman Muslimin Sema said Thursday that appointed BARMM officials need three more years to fully accomplish the transition process from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, to the Bangsamoro government.

The BARMM parliament urged Malacañang last week to allow incumbent regional officials to continue working for three more years, citing lack of time for a full transition.

The first ever regional polls for BARMM parliament members are slated for 2022, simultaneous with the nationwide presidential and local elections.

The BARMM replaced the 29-year-old ARMM only last February 2019, a result of two decades of peace talks between the government and the MILF.
Ebrahim, the appointed Bangsamoro chief minister, is chairman of the MILF's central committee.

Sema, leader of the politically active and largest among two blocs in the MNLF, said the coronavirus pandemic caused setbacks in the setting up by the MILF and Malacañang of a fully operational Bangsamoro government.

"Over and above that is the need for ample time for the mutual efforts of the MNLF and the MILF to put in place a durable governance foundation for BARMM," Sema said Thursday.

Duterte meets with BARMM officials

Ebrahim and senior BARMM officials, among them Executive Secretary Abdulraof Macacua, and lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, who is Bangsamoro local government minister, briefed Duterte last Monday on the need for an extension to maintain the momentum of the fledgling Bangsamoro government.

Sinarimbo said Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez, Jr. and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año were present during their meeting with Duterte in Davao City.

Sinarimbo, who is BARMM's regional spokesperson, said Duterte raised no objections to the proposed extension of terms of Bangsamoro Transition Authority officials.

Sinarimbo said Galvez, who was assigned to the region when he was in the military, told Duterte that OPAPP needs more time to pursue the normalization agenda — including the decommissioning of MILF guerrillas — as part of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

"The MNLF is one with the MILF in securing lasting peace, in fostering lasting peace and sustainable development in the Moro homeland through good governance," Sema said.