Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez on Monday dismissed claims by persons passing themselves off as representatives of the Moro National Liberation Front that the group was left out in the formation of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.
“There are many people who want to be part of the BTA because it is very historic. They [Emmanuel Fontanilla and Montaha Babao] also applied but were not included. I believe they are making these statements for selfish and personal reasons. More importantly, they are not authorized to speak for the MNLF,” Galvez told Manila Standard.
Galvez was reacting to a claim by Fontanilla, reported by CNN Philippines, that the MNLF would not recognize the BTA because it was not a part of it.
But Galvez told the Manila Standard that 14 members of the 80-man BTA represent the MNLF, of which nine were nominated by the group headed by Nur Misuari. The government also named three people who have worked very closely with the MNLF. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front also allotted two out of its 41 seats in the BTA to the MNLF.
“It is incorrect to say that the MNLF was left out. Originally, they wanted 19 seats, but we had a meeting with Yusoph Jikiri [an MNLF leader under Misuari] in January before the start of the plebiscite and explained to them that it is very unfair to ask for parity because it was really the MILF that worked hard for this agreement. There is a great difference between parity and equity,” he said.
Galvez said President Rodrigo Duterte has already given the green light to start talks with Misuari.
“Undersecretary Nabil Tan spoke with Misuari today [Monday] and he was receptive to the suggestion. We just have to schedule a date for the dialogue,” he said.
On Friday, the President formalized the creation of the BTA, composed of 80 members, which will serve as the interim government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao until elections are held in 2022.
Babao, speaker of the Bangsamoro People’s National Congress of the MNLF, had also expressed dissatisfaction with the apportioning of seats, saying the MNLF expected more of the 39 positions that remained after 41 were allotted to the MILF.
He said while the MNLF nominated 22 members, only five were chosen—a far different number than the 14 that Galvez mentioned on Monday.
Babao then called on the government to provide a bigger representation of MNLF in the BTA, saying that “those who had prepared the food were not allowed to eat.”
Galvez said MNLF members will have “equitable representation” in the BTA.
READ: UN chief hails establishment of Bangsamoro transition body
“As I have always emphasized, bringing about necessary reforms to the BARMM depends not on the number of representatives per sector or grouping but on the effectiveness, efficiency, and sincerity of each member of the BTA,” Galvez said in a statement.
He said the BTA faces the “gargantuan task” of establishing the formal structure of the new Bangsamoro region.
He also emphasized the need to have lawyers, technocrats, professionals, and other specialists in the interim government. These experts are then expected to craft the region’s electoral, local government, education, administrative, revenue, and civil service codes as well as the new Bangsamoro Development Plan.
“The BTA represents not just the MILF and MNLF but the entirety of the Moro and non-Moro people.
The 80-member transition body will see to it that by 2022, a strong institution shall have been lain down and the people of BARMM will be ready to exercise their right of suffrage and install their government officials,” he said.
READ: Murad heads Bangsamoro transition body
“We recognize that there are many more who want to serve the Bangsamoro through the BTA, but let us not forget that there is a multitude of ways to render our service for the people,” he added.
Last month, the President noted that he needs to hear the suggestions raised by Misuari on the peace process in Mindanao and consider the sentiment of the people of Sulu who rejected the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
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