By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte is considering the appointment of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol as the next chairman of Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) to help spur the development of the Bangsamoro autonomous region.
The President, however, intends to talk to Bangsamoro interim chief Murad Ebrahim before transferring Piñol to MinDA to serve as the national government’s point man to the autonomous region.
Duterte made the remarks after Piñol offered to be relieved as Agriculture Secretary and assigned to another government agency, including MinDa.
“I have yet to see Murad and the other officials of the BARMM. Ang nangyari kasi ganito walang nagtitimon [What happened is no one is steering the wheel] for the national government. I am not saying that they do not know how to govern. As a matter of fact, they are experts. Most of them because they are once upon a time politicians.. ang problema… I do not see any movement there,” he said during a press conference at the Palace Thursday night.
“I cannot see anybody in the horizon except Piñol who knows and grew up, born in Mindanao. He’s a farmer and governor, so sabi ko kailangan ko ng timon [I said I need a point man] and that MinDA position is a cabinet position,” he said.
“Sabi ko pumunta ka na lang doon tulungan mo na lang ako [I said, go there and help me]. Get them started, hurry up, hurry them up, so that they will have a first regular organized government that they have long wished for,” he said, referring to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.
Asked if he has accepted Piñol’s resignation, Duterte said: “Until after I shall have talked to Murad.”
The top MinDa post has been vacant since the death of Secretary Datu Abul Khayr Dangcal Alonto last May.
Duterte explained that the role of a “Mindanao chieftain in government” would be to implement the national government’s obligations and responsibilities to the Moro people. This includes ensuring the passage of key legislation that will help the socio-economic development of the Bangsamoro region, he added.
“I want the Moro happy. We have promised everything and I want it completed during my term kaya bilisan ninyo and use whatever legislation you want about Liguasan Marsh and the others. You have Piñol to talk to and he will craft something there for everybody,” he said.
He made clear that the national government would not interfere with the work of the Bangsamoro transition government.
“We do not interfere. We will just guide them and whatever their longings are Piñol would bring it — bring it to the attention of the Cabinet,” he said.
Duterte admitted that there seems to be a “disconnect” between the national government and the Bangsamoro transition authority.
He noted that he has not yet seen again Murad and other Bangsamoro regional officials because there was no point man for the national government.
” Your place is rich both in natural resources and ang mga tao… There seems to be a disconnect dito sa akin and sa kanila [between the government and them],” he said.
He noted that he pushed for the development of the Liguasan Marsh, citing the oil reserves could help provide income to the Bangsamoro people.
“I believe them that is really full of resources including oil. Sabi ko eh di exploit na ninyo ‘yan. It’s all yours. Nobody will ask for it except (Finance Secretary Carlos) Dominguez maybe for the taxes. At ‘yung minimal naman, taxation just for regulation. It’s not really for income, he said.
He said if the Moro brothers would feel generous, they might also share the wealth to others.
Last February, the President called on the interim government of the Bangsamoro region to oversee the three-year transition period to the best of their ability and work for the interest of the people. The President said the BTA led by Murad must also help promote the rule of law and good governance in the new autonomous region.
Murad has been appointed to serve as interim chief minister of the Bangsamoro caretaker government until the new regional leaders are elected in 2022.