President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said the country had reached its “endpoint” with the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law and the creation of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.
An “overwhelmingly proud” Duterte made the comment as he announced the appointment of Moro Islamic Liberation Front chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim as the interim Chief Minister of the BTA, urging the 80-member council to “never waver” in building an institution founded on the rule of law.
In his speech after the oath-taking ceremony of the members of the BTA, the President formalized Murad’s appointment, hoping that the 80-member BTA would lead the newly-created BARMM towards “a brighter tomorrow.”
“I am pleased to announce the appointment of MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim as Interim Chief Minister of the BTA,” Duterte said in his speech.
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The President also announced the certification from the Commission on Elections declaring the ratification of the Organic Act for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
“I am elated to accept the certification from COMELEC declaring the ratification of the Organic Act for the BARMM and the expansion of its territory to include Cotabato City and 63 barangays from the Province of North Cotabato,” he added.
According to the President, the establishment of the BARMM was the realization of the government and the MILF’s collective desire.
“It will be the realization of all our dreams [to] end long decades of armed struggle that hindered the growth of the region and I also consider my home,” he said.
“[It will] enable us to create an environment that will be conducive to the peaceful coexistence between the Muslims, Christians, Lumads, and all tribes of this planet as indigenous peoples and settlers who will consider Mindanao as their home.”
As the government and the newly-formed BTA welcomed a new era of peace and development in the war-torn region, Duterte then posed a challenge to the members of the BTA.
“I pose this challenge to the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority: Always embody the dreams and aspirations of the great men and women who came before you and fought for the recognition of your right to determine your future,” he said.
“I ask you never to waver in your commitment to building an institution that is founded on the rule of law, the promotion of good governance, and the defense [of] our most cherished democratic values,” he continued.
The President also reminded them to always work for the “best interest and welfare” of the people, regardless of ethnicity and religion.
“I trust that you will oversee the transition period to the best of your abilities, especially in the decommissioning of firearms and former combatants,” Duterte said.
“My only hope is that we put to rest the bitter memories of the past so that we can build a new region that is bound, not by ethnic or religious affiliation, but by a common aspiration for peaceful coexistence among our fellow Filipinos,” he said, asking them to “put to rest” the bitter memories of the past.
With the creation of the BTA, the President said he would like to see an end of the violence that has rocked the war-torn region, costing the lives of many for nothing.
Duterte then assured the BTA, which will be an interim government of the BARMM until 2022, that he will abide by the law for the remaining years of his presidency.
“I will always do what the law says, what is yours, and what extent that we can give you, not only comfort but happiness to the Muslims of Mindanao,” he said.
“Your courage and determination will never be put to waste. I guarantee that you and this administration will use all the resources within its disposal to ensure better governance and inclusive political empowerment in this new Bangsamoro region,” he added.
Murad’s appointment was expected since he and the MILF played a vital part in pushing for the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
The BTA would have 80 members, half of it would be nominated by the MILF. Leaders of the MNLF are also expected to be given seats in the BTA.
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For the span of three years that it is in charge, the BTA will have both legislative and executive powers in the BARMM. Ebrahim would then have executive powers while other members of the BTA will exercise legislative powers.
The Palace, however, has yet to release the list of BTA appointees as of press time.
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