4 BARMM governors meet in Cagayan de Oro, unveil alliance for ‘development’

Froilan Gallardo

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4 BARMM governors meet in Cagayan de Oro, unveil alliance for ‘development’

V-SIGN. Governors from BARMM provinces flash the victory sign as they show a manifesto, calling for inclusive governance and consultation in their region during a meeting in Cagayan de Oro on Tuesday, June 6. From right are governors Yshmael Sali of Tawi-tawi, Mariam Mangudadatu of Maguindanao del Sur, Mamintal Adiong of Lanao del Sur, Abdusakur Tan of Sulu, and Maloso, Basilan Mayor Hanie Bud who represented Governor Jim Hataman-Salliman.

Froilan Gallardo / Rappler

Lanao del Sur 1st District Representative Zia Adiong says the move of the governors should serve as a wake-up call for the MILF

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – In a show of unity, the majority of the provincial governors in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) met in Cagayan de Oro on Tuesday, June 6, to reiterate their call for inclusive governance and development, and the rule of law in the predominantly Muslim region.

The governors – Mamintal Alonto Adiong of Lanao del Sur, Mariam Mangudadatu of Maguindanao del Sur, Yshmael Sali of Tawi-Tawi, and Abdusakur Mahail Tan of Sulu – signed a manifesto that called their group the “BARMM Governors Caucus (BGC).”

Basilan Governor Jim Hataman Salliman did not come but was represented by Maluso town Mayor Hanie Bud, the leader of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) in Basilan.

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Noticeably absent from the gathering was Governor Abdulraof Macacua of Maguindanao del Norte, who was appointed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in April 2023.

Macacua, more known by his nom de guerre Sammy Gambar, is once the chief of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), the armed wing of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which ended decades of secessionist rebellion in Mindanao with a 2014 peace deal with the government.

The political settlement led to the creation of the BARMM which is now being governed by an interim group dominated by the MILF and headed by its chairman, Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim.

The absence of Macacua, who before his appointment as officer-in-charge/governor of Maguindanao del Norte served as the region’s senior minister, further raised speculations that most of BARMM’s provincial governors were solidifying an alliance to go against the MILF-dominated parliament ahead of October’s barangay and youth election, and the 2025 local elections.

‘No politics’

Adiong, however, told reporters that they have not joined forces to frustrate the MILF’s bid to win seats in their provinces but to address their growing concerns on the development and the peace and order situation in the region where armed conflicts and deadly violence remained to be a recurring problem.

He said the other governors agreed to see him in Cagayan de Oro because they were unable to visit him during his hospital confinement as a result of an ambush near the boundaries of Lanao del Sur and Bukidnon on February 17.

The ambush killed four of Adiong’s aides and left him wounded.

SIGN. A woman from the BARMM signs an oversized copy of a manifesto of BARMM provincial governors calling for inclusive governance in their region during a gathering in Cagayan de Oro on Tuesday, June 6. – Froilan Gallardo / Rappler

“Masayadong premature pa para pag-usapan ang election. Ang caucus na ito ay para sa mga constituents ng BARMM (It’s still too premature to discuss the election. This caucus is for the constituents of BARMM),” Adiong said.

Wake-up call

The governor’s brother, Lanao del Sur 1st District Representative Zia Adiong, however, said the move of the governors should serve as a “wake-up call” for the MILF.

“This could develop into something else. We are open to any development that this caucus may lead to,” Zia said.

He said the governor’s group could eventually develop into a political party that may challenge the MILF’s leadership in the 2025 BARMM elections.

Zia, a former member of the Bangsamoro parliament, said if any of the governors want to become BARMM’S chief minister, then the aspirant would need to secure as many seats in the Bangsamoro parliament first because its members choose who gets to be the head of the regional government.

He said, “LGUs (local government units) are always key players in any elections.”

Based on the rule, the 80-member BARMM parliament is composed of 41 MILF members, while the rest are sectoral representatives. 

Not a new plan

Mangudadatu, for her part, said the plan to organize the group of BARMM governors started even before Marcos appointed Macacua as Maguindanao del Norte’s governor. 

She had initially questioned the appointment of OICs in the two Maguindanao provinces, including Macacua’s, but later gave in and welcomed the new governor and expressed her willingness to collaborate with him and the BARMM leadership.

The governors‘ caucus seeks to enhance the coordination of the national and regional governments to improve development and foster peace mechanisms in the region, and is not motivated by partisan politics, said Tan.

“The purpose of this caucus is not to discuss the election. First, we are not sure because the (barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan) elections are always being postponed. We are not sure if there will be an election. It might be premature to talk about the election. This is cooperation. We have no bad intentions. This is not to destroy but to fix and speed up what we have to do,” Tan said.


In the manifesto they signed, the governors said security challenges in the BARMM are not addressed because of unclear and overlapping mandates of law-enforcement agencies.

Adiong cited the attempt on his life early this year. “If a governor like me can be ambushed, what more for the ordinary people?” he said.

The governors also called for inclusive governance and development in BARMM to address the marginalization of its residents, one of the problems that, they said, results in violent extremism.

They also called on the BARMM government to convene a council of leaders and broad representation from local governments and sectoral groups. –

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