By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The interim Bangsamoro parliament wants to immortalize the ideals and teachings of late Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) founding Chairman Hashim Salamat by declaring July 13, or the day when he died, an annual “special non-working holiday” in the new autonomous region.
An enabling bill is now pending deliberation at the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) parliament, seeking to declare July 13 as a yearly holiday in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), according to author lawyer Paisalin P. Tago.
Tago, a former legislative speaker of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), furnished The Manila Bulletin over the weekend an e-copy of his proposal docketed as BTA Bill No. 13.
The bill, titled “an Act declaring July 13 and every year thereafter as Hashim Salamat Day, a special non-working holiday in areas of (BARMM),” is one of legislative measures filed by Tago following the inaugural session of the 80-member BTA last March.
Salamat died of complications from a heart ailment and an acute ulcer on July 13, 2003 in Butig town, Lanao del Sur where he had remarried, and sought refuge after reclusion from the government’s erstwhile manhunt against him and other top MILF leaders.
Salamat used to be one of three vice chairmen of Nur Misuari in the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the then mainstream Moro secessionist group organized in 1969 to fight government forces, and their allied Mindanao settlers in fierce guerilla operations during the “repressive” regime of the late former President Ferdinand Marcos.
If passed, Tago said, the bill would authorize the “office of the Chief Minister…to plan and implement the appropriate ceremonies or activities commemorating or in observance of the (regional holiday).”
The BARMM interim Chief Minister is Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim, the immediate successor of the late Salamat as MILF chieftain.
Over policy differences with Misuari, vice chairmen Salamat of Maguindanao and Dimas Pundato of Lanao del Sur bolted the MNLF in 1977, and subsequently formed the MILF and the MNLF-Reformist Group, respectively.