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“The MNLF is well represented in the BARMM” – Defense Chief

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By Francis Wakefield

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana Tuesday said that as far as he is concerned the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is well represented in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (photo courtesy of the Office of the Secretary of National Defense)

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (photo courtesy of the Office of the Secretary of National Defense)

Lorenzana made the remark after some MNLF member air their concerns on the composition of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

On Monday night, President Rodrigo Duterte also met with MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari amid supposed “rumblings” within the rebel group over the BTA.

“Kasama din sila kasi meron silang naipasok na seven eh pitong member ng BTA [They are also included because seven of them are members of the BTA],” Lorenzana told reporters in a press briefing following the inauguration of the new National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Operations Center in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

“Ang naririnig ko diyan medyo nagtatampo sila kung bakit pito lang ang naipasok nila. Sabi ko naman mabuti nga nakapasok pa iyung pito nila eh {What I heard is that some are sulking because only seven of them were included. I said it’s a good thing that seven of them were even included],” he added.

When asked to clarify his statement, Lorenzana said the BOL or Bangsamoro Organic Law is a Moro Islamic Liberation Front activity.

“Kasi ito kasi, itong BOL na to is parang MILF ito eh, MILF activity ito. Ngayon kung, iyung ano naman nung nag kampanya sila ng BOL plebisito ang pinaka-active diyan ay iyung mga MILF [This BOL is somewhat an MILF activity. Now during the campaign of the BOL, the most active is the MILF],” Lorenzana said.

“Kaunti lang ang participation ng MNLF, except sa Sulu, sa Jolo, sa Sulu province by Jikiri. Mukhang sa ibang lugar hindi na sila masyadong nag participate eh [The MNLF has a minimal participation, except in Sulu, in Jolo, in Sulu province by Jikiri. In other areas they seldom participated],” he added.

Lorenzana, at the same time, express hope that the rumblings would not result into more serious problems.

“Kasi sabi ko ganito ha, itong BTA is transition authority lang ito, it will last up to 2022. From now up to the election of 2022, sila ang nandun sa ano, magpapa-takbo ng BARMM [What I said is this, the BTA is a transition authority, it will last up to 2022. From now up to the election of 2022, they will be there running the BARMM]. They are going to craft laws that will affect iyung pagtatakbo ng [the running of] BARMM.”

“After that magkakaroon ng election ng parang Member of Parliament nila, so hindi na iyun appointed kundi magtatakbo, they have to campaign. So sabi ko iyung transition, bayaan na muna, kung ano ang naipasok mo dun, okay lang yun then prepare for the next round ng selection ng authority members, hindi na transition [After that there will be an election of members of their parliament so they are no longer appointed  but they will run and elected, they have to campaign. So I said the transition, just let it be, so whatever you entered there, that’s okay then prepare for the next round of the selection of authority members],” he said.

Lorenzana did not discount the possibility that those left out from the list may be included soon as there are still several slots that are open.

“Si Misuari kasi hindi siya masyadong naging active diyan sa BOL. Ang naging active dyan si Jikiri,  iyung number two man niya na [who] became the chairman of the MNLF. Ang pagkaka-alam ko hindi na siya chairman pero ang stature niya pa rin, parang siya pa rin ang parang defacto leader ng MNLF pero ang humaharap na diyan sa BOL si Yusuf Jikiri [Misuari was not that active in the BOL. Jikiri was the most active, his number two man who became the chairman of the MNLF. What I know is that he is no longer the chairman but his stature is still, somewhat he is still the defacto leader of the MNLF but the one who appears in the BOL is Yusuf Jikiri],” Lorenzana said.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. also said that contrary to claims by some, the members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) have equitable representation in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).

“As I have always emphasized, bringing about necessary reforms to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao 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.

“The BTA will face the gargantuan task of shaping the formal structure of the new Bangsamoro region,” he added.

Galvez said these include the crafting of the Electoral, Local Government, Education, Administrative, Revenue, and Civil Service Codes as well as the new Bangsamoro Development Plan.

“This requires the expertise of lawyers, technocrats, professionals, and other specialists in the interim government,” he said.

Galvez reiterated that 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 laid down and the people of BARMM will be ready to exercise their right of suffrage and install their government officials,” Galvez said.

“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.”

“At this point, it is essential that we work together to nurture the gains of our journey to peace,” he added.

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