Dividing Bangsamoro government needed to govern smaller islands

MANILA, Philippines – Key officials involved in the implementation of the peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Tuesday, March 27, explained the importance of dividing the proposed Bangsamoro government, as envisioned by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“The President is thinking of a comprehensive and integrative, all inclusive peace with our groups, but we’re still on track,” Nabil Tan, head of the government implementing panel, said in a news briefing on Tuesday, when asked about Duterte's proposal.

Duterte raised his idea in a speech in Sulu on Monday, March 26, while questioning how leadership in the proposed Bangsamoro government would be divided especially in the Tausug, Kagan, Sama, and Yakan communities in the province, as these are Moro ethnic groups of their own.

The President said this needs to be resolved this year, or by the time Congress passes the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Tan, former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) vice governor, was asked about Duterte's proposal during a press conference highlighting government progress 4 years after it signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with the MILF.

Since then, Tan said both parties have taken a “significant shift” from negotiating peace to implementing the BBL, a legislative proposal that would abolish the current ARMM to make way for the Bangsamoro government.

Under the proposed measure, there will be 3 sub-regions: South Western Mindanao, North Central Mindanao, and South Central Mindanao.

Dividing South Western Mindanao would ensure the representation of each tribe, an idea that holds valid basis, according to Abhoud Syed Lingga of the MILF implementing panel.

South Western Mindanao includes the chain of islands in the Sulu Sea, including the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

“So the question is, how can we deliver services to the small islands in the Sulu Sea?”  Lingga said.

Meanwhile, Jose Lorena, a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, reiterated on Tuesday that the Duterte administration is bent on supporting the passage of the BBL.

“I hope the Congress of the Philippines will consider the prescription of the President for purposes of governance,” he told reporters. – Rappler.com