MILF’s party flexes muscle ahead of filing of candidacy certificates

Ferdinandh Cabrera

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MILF’s party flexes muscle ahead of filing of candidacy certificates

BARMM interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag 'Al Haj Murad' Ebrahim

BARMM's ruling United Bangsamoro Justice Party is working to win as many seats as possible across the region in 2025

DAVAO, Philippines – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s political arm, the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP), has started strengthening its support base ahead of the filing of certificates of candidacy for the Muslim-majority region’s first parliamentary elections next year.

The UBJP mobilized its supporters through a grand assembly held at the Cotabato City State University (CSU) on Saturday, February 17.

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), a five-year-old special autonomous political territory currently governed by an interim transition authority, will hold its first regional elections in May 2025, simultaneously with the country’s midterm elections.

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GETTING READY. The United Bangsamoro Justice Party holds a political gathering in Cotabato City on Saturday, February 17, in preparation for the 2025 elections. -courtesy of Kutangbato News

UBJP, the region’s ruling party, is working to win as many seats as possible in the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan, and Marawi, as well as parts of Cotabato province, which comprise BARMM’s special geographic area.

The 80-member BARMM Parliament comprises 40 party representatives, 32 district representatives, and eight sectoral representatives. Presently, the BTA is predominantly composed of MILF members holding 41 seats, while the remaining 39 were nominees.

BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim, who is also the leader of the MILF, said his group wants to sustain the momentum and the gains seen in the region since its creation in 2019.

“The result of the 2025 parliamentary elections is very important. It relies not only on the composition of parliament but also on the continuity of what was started as fruits of the peace process, borne out by the reforms we initiated in politics, its system, and governance,” Ebrahim said.

Ebrahim also called on UBJP members to heed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s call for a historic, peaceful, honest, and credible parliamentary election.

The region has a history of critical and conflict-ridden elections, which required heightened security measures. 

Murad said he anticipates the youth vote in 2025 to determine the future of the BARMM.

“Let this be your battle now. This is no longer for us. This is for your future, for your children and the next generations,” Ebrahim addressed the youth sector during the Cotabato City gathering.

Ebrahim and other BARMM officials would end their terms of office as members of the interim Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) on June 30, 2025.

The UBJP has claimed that 20,000 people in various areas in the BARMM and other regions joined the political party.

“They have voluntarily rallied behind our cause, as they did since the start of the peace process,” said Mohajirin Ali, the party’s spokesperson.

Murad retained his position as the UBJP chairman, with BARMM Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal as vice chairman for Central Mindanao, and Maguindanao del Norte Governor Abdulraof Macacua as the party’s secretary-general.

The UBJP, through secret balloting, also elected the following party officers:

  • Matarul Estino, vice president for Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi (BASULTA), including Zamboanga City
  • Sheikh Ali Solaiman, vice president for Northern Mindanao
  • Mohammad Yacob, vice president for Southern Mindanao
  • Malik Caril, vice president for Zamboanga Peninsula
  • Hussein Muñoz, vice president for Eastern Mindanao
  • Abdullah Hashim, vice president for the youth sector
  • Aida Silongan, vice president for the women’s sector
  • Mary Ann Arnado, vice president for settler communities
  • Ramon Piang Sr., vice president for indigenous peoples
  • Antao Midtimbang, vice president for traditional leaders
  • Sheikh Abdulwahab Pak, vice president for ulama
  • Edgar Guerra, treasurer
  • Mohajirin Ali, information officer

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