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COTABATO CITY, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s appointment of Bangsamoro Senior Minister Abdulraof A. Macacua as officer-in-charge (OIC) of the newly-created province of Maguindanao del Norte will fast-track political stability and economic development, the Department of National Defense (DND) said in a statement on Thursday, April 6.
The joint statement with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU) said the appointment reflects Marcos’ trust and confidence in Macacua.
Marcos swore in the former chief of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) in Malacañang on April 5.
Senior Defense Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr. and acting OPARU Adviser Isidro Purisma said Macacua had demonstrated skill, competence, and leadership during his term as a former Member of Parliament and Senior Minister.
“He will be instrumental in promoting the culture of peace throughout the province,” they said.
The two agencies urged Bangsamoro constituents and leaders to unite and respect the President’s decision.
Aside from appointing Macacua as the first governor of Maguindanao del Norte province, Marcos also appointed Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu to head Maguindanao del Sur.
The President named Ainee Limbona-Sinsuat, the elected vice governor of the defunct Maguindanao, as vice governor of the new province.
Before Macacua’s appointment, Sinsuat took her oath as governor of the province on October 13, 2022 with Maguindanao provincial board member Sharifudin Mastura as her vice governor.
They assumed office on January 10, invoking Republic Act 11550, the law that split Maguindanao into Maguindanao Del Sur and Maguindanao Del Norte.
Maguindanao del Norte was carved out of the old Maguindanao province by a law that was ratified during a plebiscite on September 17, 2022.
Sinsuat started organizing the new provincial government in Datu Odin Sinsuat town where her husband is the town mayor, but complained that the national government withheld funds from them.
BARMM’s Interior Ministry did not recognize them, saying any appointment has to come from the President.
The Presidential Communications Office said Macacua’s appointment shows the Marcos government’s “commitment to the mainstreaming of the peace process.”
Bangsamoro Government (BARMM) Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “Murad” Ebrahim expressed his gratitude to President Marcos for the appointment of OIC’s in the newly created regions.
“I am taking this very positively and would like to express my sincerest gratitude to our president,” Ebrahim said.
“Finally, the appointed officials can now focus on what is really important – the welfare of the constituents and the continuous development of their respective provinces,” he added.
BARMM Minister of the Interior and Local Government Naguib Sinarimbo said the President’s move would allow the MILF and BARMM to showcase “the potentials of synergy” with the national government.
“Installing an OIC would end the confusion among local leaders and residents,” said Sinarimbo.
Mayor Zohria “Jo” Saglayan-Guro of Matanog, Maguindanao del Norte also expressed her support for Macacua’s appointment.
Matanog lies at the of Lanao Del Sur and was once a stronghold of the MILF and center of the 2000 all-out war of President Joseph Estrada. – Rappler.com