By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The inauguration of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and the first session of its parliament have been reset anew from March 21 to March 25, with officials confirming President Duterte’s attendance to grace the rescheduled events.
The original scheduled was March 11 as mentioned by members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) and interim Chief Minister (ICM) Murad Ebrahim during their first caucus here last February 27.
It was moved to March 21, a date coinciding with the Estrada government’s declaration of “all-out war” against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) 19 years ago.
But at the sidelines of the national peace and order council meeting in Davao City last Thursday, Ebrahim reportedly received words from President Duterte that he would only be available for the events here on March 25.
Sources involved in the preparation for the inaugural events said the venue for the ceremonies would be the 145-seater Shariff Kabunsuan Center (SKCC) at the 22-hectared compound here of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where the BARMM parliament will be holding its sessions.
The President on February 22 swore in the BTA members in Malacanang, naming Ebrahim as ICM. Appointment papers of 76 BTA members were released on February 27, during which Ebrahim officially took over from ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman.
Of the 76 appointed, one passed away on March 13 – MILF’s 1st Vice Chair, Ghazlai Jaafar, whom Ebrahim earlier named as speaker of the Bangsamoro Parliament, with Lanao del Sur former Congressman Pangalian Balindong as deputy speaker.
Jaafar’s death left only 75 members out of the supposed 80 BTA members prescribed under the BARMM charter.
The four vacant BTA seats are reserved for nominees from the government side. The MILF central committee will decide on who it will endorse to the President to replace Jaafar, a report attributed to Ebrahim said.
The BTA, consisting of 41 MILF-nominated members and 39 government representatives, will government BARMM until the election of regular officials in 2022.
Ebrahim has initially named 10 ministers of the 15-member regional cabinet
The cabinet includes ministries on finance and budget management; social services; trade, investments, and tourism; labor and employment; basic, higher and technical Education; transportation and communications; public works; indigenous peoples’ affairs; health; local government; environment, natural resources, and energy; public order and safety; human settlements development; science and technology; and agriculture, fisheries and agrarian reform.