Bangsamoro chief minister defends MILF majority in transition authority

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 26 2019 03:59 PM | Updated as of Feb 26 2019 08:31 PM

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MANILA - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was deliberately given majority of the seats in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) to allow the group to transform from armed rebels to bureaucrats, the new region's interim minister said Tuesday.

"It is a transition period na hiningi ng MILF to which ang objective natin is to transform the MILF," BTA interim minister and MILF chair Murad Ebrahim told ANC's Early Edition.

"MNLF has already been in government for several years. Hindi na nila kailangan ng transition period because they have already occupied position in government," he said.

Murad made the statement amid reported "rumblings" within the MILF's rival Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). 

Its member Lanao sultan Firdausi Abbas earlier said he would establish a splinter group after the MILF was given 41 of 80 seats in the BTA, which would lead the Bangsamoro territory for 3 years before it holds an official election in 2022.

Despite his lack of experience in governance, Murad assured the public of a stable Bangsamoro under his watch.

"It is true, I have never been in government but for more than 50 years, I have been running a revolutionary organization. You will notice that there has been no challenge in my leadership in the organization," he said.

"I have no experience in governance that is why hiningi namin itong transition period so there will be a chance for us to transform from revolutionary to governance bureaucracy," he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night held a brief meeting with MNLF founder Nur Misuari in Malacañang amid the reported "rumblings."

The Moro leader, however, did not discuss the reported complaint from his group over MILF dominance in the BTA, said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a press briefing Tuesday. 

The MNLF was given 5 of 39 seats allotted for appointees of President Rodrigo Duterte.

"That is already the discretion of the central government. Hindi na namin saklaw yun," he said.

Murad downplayed possibilities that the new breakaway faction would impose a threat in the new Bangsamoro region.

"Atty. Abbas, if I remember right, hindi naman siya MNLF. Very recently lang siya nag-join (he is not with the MNLF. He joined very recently)," Murad said.

"I don't see how strong ang following ni Atty. Ferdausi on the ground kasi wala tayong nakikita prominent na area where he is in command of any group," he said.

(I don't see how strong Atty. Ferdausi's following is on the ground because we don't see a prominent area where he is in command of any group.)