MILF eyes skilled youth in 'inclusive' Bangsamoro gov’t

Christian Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 30 2018 03:32 PM

CAMP DARAPANAN, Maguindanao—Battle-weary Muslim rebels are looking to invite young, highly skilled professionals to serve in an “inclusive” new Bangsamoro government, their leader said Sunday, admitting running a bureaucracy posed a bigger challenge than waging jungle warfare.

Murad Ebrahim said he himself would have to “refresh first”, acknowledging that holding a government post would be different from running the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as its chairman for 15 years.

“The leadership of the MILF admittedly are getting mature—wag na natin sabihin na tumatanda—but they’re getting mature. Now, that is one challenge also for us,” he told a news conference after a massive gathering of supporters here.

“So we need to let young people come in... as second-liners,” added Murad, who is expected to lead the transition government as interim chief minister until 2022.

Murad said his group began sending people for skills training in countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Turkey about 5 years ago.


TRAINING

The MILF, the largest Muslim rebel group in the country, was then close to signing a landmark peace deal with the previous administration.

Preparations for a new Bangsamoro government continued despite serious roadblocks—including the killing of 44 police commandos in 2015—on a law that would implement the peace accord.

It was eventually passed by Congress and signed by President Rodrigo Duterte late last week—about 3 years behind schedule—and will now have to be ratified in a plebiscite.

In 2013, a Cotabato City-based think tank and German foundation Konrad Adenauer Stiftung began training MILF combatants on political party development.

Since then, hundreds of rebels have been introduced to the “significant role of political parties in building democratic government” and trained on “how to build and manage a genuine and principled political party,” said the Institute for Autonomy and Governance.


CHALLENGE

“The battlefield is much easier than a bureaucracy,” its executive director, lawyer Benedicto Bacani, told ABS-CBN News.

In 2014, MILF formed its political party, the United Bangsamoro Justice Party, which is expected gun for the seats in the 80-member Bangsamoro parliament.

Transitioning from a revolutionary organization and running a government will be a “challenge,” said Murad, “and we will be facing this challenge squarely because we have no other way.”

“We have no intention of being exclusive in our governance,” he added. “We need the brains and expertise of people... We will be welcoming people in the Bangsamoro who have the skills.“