MANILA - The Philippines' largest Moro rebel group should be given a chance to transform itself into a bureaucracy, its leader said Thursday, following accusations that it is imposing a "virtual dictatorship" over the new Bangsamoro region.
Leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last week took their oaths as members of the transition government of the Bangsamoro region, where Muslims have won new powers and an influx of cash in a push for peace.
Firdausi Abbas, vice chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), has said the Bangsamoro transition government's 3-year term term is "tyrannical", as he called for an election within 6 months, instead of waiting until 2022.
Abbas is among those who drafted the law that created the Bangsamoro and provided for the 3-year term that will allow MILF to "transform from a revolutionary organization to governance and bureaucracy," said the region's interim chief minister Murad Ebrahim.
"Ito iyung panahon namin na mag-transform, itong transition, kaya kailangan bigyan kami ng chance," he told radio DZMM.
(This is the time for us to transform, this transition, so we should be given a chance.)
Abbas has threatened to establish a new faction in protest of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), where 41 out of the 80 members were nominated by the MILF.
"Sana hindi naman maging threat kasi hopefully, ma-realize nya na kasama s'ya rito, kasama siyang nag-kwan (gumawa) ng law," Ebrahim said of the planned faction.
(I hope that it will not become a threat because hopefully, he will realize that he is part of this, he is among those who drafted the law.)
"Tatlong taon lang itong BTA. After 2022, they can form their own political party and they can contest in the elections. They're most welcome," he added.
(The BTA will just be for 3 years.)
Abbas was not appointed by the government to the BTA although he helped draft the Bangsamoro Organic Law, said Ebrahim, adding that he was "not privy" to the reasons.
The law is the product of a 2014 peace deal between the government and the MILF, which bolted the MNLF in the late 70s.
An independent body is validating MILF's list of combatants and weapons, a third of which will be decommissioned under its deal with the government, said Ebrahim.
The decommissioning could start "anytime" after the validation of the list is completed, he said.