Cotabato City”•Bangsamoro Region Interim Chief Minister Hadji Murad Ebrahim has reiterated an earlier commitment he made to help the government in its fight terrorism, corruption and the proliferation of dangerous drugs.
Local Governments Minister Naguib Sinarimbo of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said the BARMM leadership’s commitment was acknowledged by Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año in his meeting with Murad Monday, two years after they first met in Davao City with President Rodrigo Duterte at the start of the Marawi siege.
“As soon as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front gave its commitment to support the [state security forces’] campaign against terrorism, we knew that half of the war in liberating Marawi City [from homegrown extremists] was already won in 2017,” Sinarimbo recalled Año as saying during their meeting.
Año , who was then Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the President did not ask then MILF Chairman Hadji Murad Ebrahim for anything more than peripheral vigilance to prevent entry of possible reinforcement to local extremists in May that year.
The MILF then committed to deploy guerrillas to fight side-by-side with government forces against Islamic extremists at the start of the Marawi siege in May 2017.
The government through the Office of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the MILF also jointly initiated the Peace Corridor for a last ditch effort to win over civilians holed up in the most affected areas or were being restricted by terrorists in Marawi then.
Murad visited Año for the first time since he assumed the top leadership of the newly created BARMM last March.
“Secretary Año revealed that when the MILF made the commitment of support, they already knew that half of the battle in liberating Marawi has been won,” BARMM Interior and Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said of the meeting.
Año said he and the President met Murad in Davao City upon their return from a shortened state visit to Russia then, when the President had to decide on launching military offensives against the Maute group holed at Marawi City’s main commercial district holding many residents hostage.
“Secretary Año recalled that at that very crucial moment, he and the President were truly grateful for (Chairman Murad’s) expressed commitment to support the government by whatever means possible and necessary, including the deployment of MILF snipers and other armaments to promptly address the Marawi crisis,” said Sinarimbo.
But while the President received Murad’s gesture with much appreciation, Año recalled that the President merely asked the MILF chief to deploy their forces around all entry and exit points of Lanao del Sur to prevent any outward attempt to reinforce the Daesh-inspired Maute extremists.
Año was joined in the Monday meeting by OPAPP Secretary Carlito Galvez of the OPAPP.
Murad’s delegation was composed of Sinarimbo, BARMM Finance Budget Minister Eduard Uy Guerra, BARMM Public Order and Safety Hussien Munoz, and Bangsamoro Transition Authority Member of Parliament Abdullah Macapaar, alias Commander Bravo.
In their meeting, Sinarimbo said Año also reiterated that the government’s campaign against corruption, illegal drugs and the fight against violent extremism needed the support of the BARMM and that Murad gave his assurances of placing in his government priorities such programs of the national government.
Sinarimbo the BARMM’s Ministry of the Interior and Local Government under him is aiming for more transparent- and accountability-oriented local governance in the region with the launch of the Bangsamoro Transparency portal by Chief Minister Murad himself.
He said Año was being keen on learning innovations that reflect the culture and tradition of the Bangsamoro as reintroduced in governance by the MILG in transparency training-cum-orientation.
The training-cum orientation forum culminated in a mass official oath before the Qur’an, and in which, newly elected local officials swore to Allah to pursue moral governance.
“This covenant before Allah and the elected officials is a very powerful means of fighting corruption,” Sinarimbo said he told the DILG chief.
Ebrahim has assumed the post of Interim Chief Minister along with 78 other appointees to the Parliament of the BTA since last March.
BTA runs the BARMM transitional government until 2022.