By Basti Vertudez

Eighty officials from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) have formally assumed their posts as new members of the region’s interim government, Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), on Friday, August 12.

Photo Courtesy of RVTM/Manman Dejeto/Mindanews

In an oath-taking ceremony at Malacañang Palace led by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., 41 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and 39 government officials were appointed.

Upon administering the ceremony for the new interim members, Marcos highlighted the importance of ‘fair’ representation of the Bangsamoro government nationally.

“In our discussions, what was important was that we were able to say that we have done our absolute best in making sure that the representation that we find in the transition authority could be as fair as possible,” the chief executive stressed in his talk.

The relationship between the MILF and the Philippine administration has accorded with the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB), following 17 years of negotiations.

Supposedly, the BTA, which was first formed in 2019, should have ended last June 30 with its members composed of Duterte appointees, in accordance with the election of new BARMM parliament officials last May.

However, due to the pandemic and inconveniences in the process, former President Rodrigo Duterte, together with the previous Congress, postponed the regional elections that should have been held last May and extended the Bangsamoro transition to 2025 instead, with Marcos sitting as president.

“That’s why, I will be here as the head of the national government to support BARMM in any way to get that settled and to make sure that we have an orderly and proper election in 2025, [and] upon electing our new officials that they have a legal framework to work within so that the government can actually function,” the president said.

With MILF Chairman Ahod Balawag Ebrahim as the proclaimed interim chief minister, the newly-appointed officials are set to govern the BTA Parliament starting 2022 until 2025.

In a Facebook post from the official page of the Bangsamoro Government on June 15, among the 12-point priority agenda of the administration for the next three years are stronger BARMM bureaucracy, agri-fishery productivity and food security, social protection and universal healthcare, and Marawi rehabilitation.

“These 12-point priority agenda shall shape our budget, legislations, programs and policies of our region as we move to the next chapter of the transition period,” Ebrahim stated in his report last June 14.

The list of the new set of BTA appointees is now uploaded on the social media page of the Bangsamoro Government.

Edited by Juliana Christine Mondoyo