President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has reappointed Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) chief minister Chairman Ahod Balawag Ebrahim and his group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), maintained majority control of the 80-member regional parliament.
The new president approved 40 other nominees of the former rebel group to the interim body including key leaders — Abdullah Goldiano Macapaar, Mohagher Mohmmad Iqbal, and Eduard Uy Guerra — who served as ministers of various Bangsamoro departments during the first three years of the BTA.
They took their oath before Marcos in Malacañang on Friday, August 12, ending speculation about a possible leadership shakeup in the autonomous region after MILF’s endorsement of Marcos’ rival during the May 2022 elections.
The BTA is the interim government in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which replaced the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. BARMM enjoys greater fiscal autonomy and wider power on land and resources in the region.
The appointments were a “happy surprise,” said Initiative for International Dialogue (IID) executive director Gus Miclat. He was previously concerned about Marcos’ silence on his plans for the BARMM during his inaugural speech and his first State of the Nation Address.
But there’s “no need for them (MILF) to feel ingratiated with the Marcos administration as it is their right to be reappointed,” said Miclat.
“It’s nice to see some new good blood, too, from both sides; and from other Moro factions such as MNLF-Misuari,” he said, referring to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari.
The other 39 members of the parliament were chosen by the government. They include the children of Misuari and Muslimin Sema, leaders of two factions of the MNLF, the group that MILF broke away from in 1977.
Misuari’s children Abdulkarim Tan Misuari and Nurredha Ibrahim Misuari also took their oath in Malacañang on Friday. Omar Yasser Crisostomo Sema and Romeo Kabuntalan Sema were reappointed, based on the list of BTA members released by the BARMM.
Members of the minority bloc were also reappointed.
Benedicto Bacani of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance also noted the “special preferences” Marcos gave the MILF and the MNLF and praised how Marcos mixed the formerl rebels with "bureaucrats with good track record in governance."
A BARMM statement said the new BTA is composed of lawyers, lawyer-certified public accountants, engineers, teachers, doctors, architects, media practitioners, politicians, former elected officials at the local levels, and government bureaucrats.
“Only a few of the nominees of local politicians who supported him in the national elections have been appointed. Political payback was less a driver in the appointments by the President,” Bacani added.
The first regular elections of the autonomous region were supposed to have been held in May 2022 but the MILF called for an extension of the transition period for another three years, citing challenges such as the coronavirus pandemic. It was approved by Congress last year.
Local politicians in the region lobbied Congress to reconstitute the BTA and allocate seats for local government units but the lawmakers decided to give the president the power to decide its composition.
Still, BARMM said the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and the North Cotabato villages that voted to join BARMM are all represented in the BTA.
Indigenous peoples who are not Moro, the Kalagan or Kagan community in Davao Oriental, and Christian or settler communities in Davao City and Cotabato City are also represented, it said.
BARMM was established in 2019 following a plebiscite that approved the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which contains agreements in a peace process between the government and the MILF. The law also guaranteed MILF’s majority control of the parliament during a three-year transition period.
The BTA can now focus on “completing its unfinished business,” said Bacani. “Hopefully, the MILF-led BTA shall build regional political structures and policies in the next three years of the political transition in a way that is accountable and inclusive not motivated by partisan and transactional politics following the lead of President Marcos in the choice of BTA members. The biggest pitfall for the BTA is to make the transition only as an extended campaign period for the 2025 elections,” he said.
Transitional justice concerns should also be prioritized, said Miclat.
“They just need to proceed in earnest but be extra mindful that normalization will not fly if fundamental transitional justice concerns are not prioritized also. They also need to pay extra attention to addressing issues of the IPs and settler, if any, within their territory,” he said.
Below is the new composition of the BTA, based on a list released by the BARMM:
1. MR. AHOD BALAWAG EBRAHIM
2. MR. ABDULLAH EBUS GAYAK
3. MR. ABDULLAH BISTON HASHIM
4. ABDULLAH GOLDIANO MACAPAAR
5. ABDULRAOF ABDUL MACACUA
6. ABDULWAHAB MOHAMMAD PAK
7. AIDA MACALIMPAS SILONGAN
8. AKMAD INDIGAY ABAS
9. ALI OMAR SALIK
10. ALI BANGCOLA SOLAIMAN
11. AMROUSSI AMPUAN MACATANONG
12. ANNA TARHATA SUMANDE BASMAN
13. BAI MALEIHA BAJUNAID CANDAO
14. BAILENG SIMPAL MANTAWIL
15. BASIT SARIP ABBAS
16. BENJAMIN TUPAY LOONG
17. DAN SALA ASNAWIE
18. EDDIE MAPAG ALIH
19. EDUARD UY GUERRA
20. HARON MUHAMMAD ABAS
21. HUSSEIN PALMA MUÑOZ
22. IBRAHIM DUMARAAG ALI
23. KADIL MONERA SINOLINDING. JR
24. LANANG TAPODOC ALI. JR
25. MARJANIE SALIC MACASALONG
26. MARY ANN MADROÑO ARNADO
27. MATARUL MATARUL ESTINO
28. MOHAGHER MOHAMMAD IQBAL
29. MOHAMMAD SHUAIB YACOB
30. MOSBER ENTOL ALAUDDIN
31. MUDJIB COMPANIA ABU
32. PANGALIAN MACAORAO BALINDONG
33. RAISSA HERRADURA JAJURIE
34. RAMON ALEJANDRO PIANG SR.
35. SAID ZAMAHSARI SALENDAB
36. SAID MANGGIS SHIEK
37. SHA ELIJAH BIRUAR DUMAMA-ALBA
38. SUHARTO SANDAYAN ESMAEL
39. SUWAIB LATIP ORANON
40. TAWAKAL BUGA MIDTIMBANG
41. UBAIDA CASAD PACASEM
42. ALI MONTAHA DATU HARON BABAO
43. HATIMIL ESMAIL HASSAN
44. MUSLIMIN ASALIM JAKILAN
45. ALBAKIL DASANI JIKIRI
46. FAISAL GUIABAR KARON
47. OMAR YASSER CRISOSTOMO SEMA
48. ADZFAR HAILID USMAN
49. ABDULKARIM TAN MISUARI
50. NURREDHA IBRAHIM MISUARI
51. DENMARTIN ABDUKAHIL KAHALAN
52. ABDULAZIZ MANGANDAKI AMENODIN
53. HAMID UDDIN MALIK
54. TARHATA MATALAM MAGLANGIT
55. RANDOLPH CLIMACO PARCASIO
56. LAISA MASUHUD ALAMIA
57. RASOL YAP MITMUG, JR.
58. BAINTAN ADIL AMPATUAN
59. JOSE IRIBANI LORENA
60. NABIL ALFAD TAN
61. SUHARTO MASTURA AMBOLODTO
62. DON MUSTAPHA ARBISON LOONG
63. AMILBAHAR SADDALANI MAWALLIL
64. RASUL ENDEREZ ISMAEL
65. SUSANA SALVADOR ANAYATIN
66. ROMEO KABUNTALAN SEMA
67. FROILYN TENORIO MENDOZA
68. ISHAK VELOSO MASTURA
69. ALI BALAYMAN SANGKI
70. NABILA MARGARITA PACASUM PANGANDAMAN
71. DIAMILA DISIMBAN RAMOS
72. JOHN ANTHONY LACBAO LIM
73. HASHEMI NUR DILANGALEN
74. SITTIE FAHANIE SINDATOK UY-OYOD
75. JAAFAR APOLLO MIKHAIL LINTONGAN MATALAM
76. BASSIR DIMAUKOM UTTO
77. KHALID MA-AMPOR HADJI ABDULLAH
78. MICHAEL ENIT MIDTIMBANG
79. MOHAMMAD KELIE UGALINGAN ANTAO
80. PAISALIN PANGANDAMAN TAGO
— PCIJ, August 2022