GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Bangsamoro parliament members unanimously reelected lawyer Pangalian Balindong as speaker during their inaugural session at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex in Cotabato City on Thursday, September 15.
Balindong, a seasoned politician from Lanao del Sur who held legislative seats since the first Marcos administration, immediately took his oath before Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “Murad” Ebrahim.
Ebrahim initially presided over the parliament’s first session since its new set of members – 49 of the 80 have been serving in the BTA since 2019 – took their oath of office before President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. a month ago.
Balindong, 82, has been the parliament speaker since 2019 when the BARMM replaced the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The speaker has held numerous positions in government for years, and he even served as deputy speaker for Mindanao of the House of Representatives.
The Bangsamoro parliament also elected BTA members Hatimil Hassan, Omar Yasser Sema, Paisalin Tago, Abdulkarim Misuari, Nabil Tan, Lanang Ali Jr., and Benjamin Loong as deputy speakers.
Members Raby Angkal and Abdulgani Caludtiag were reelected as Parliament secretary-general and sergeant-at-arms, respectively, while Sha Elijah Dumama-Alba was elected as the majority leader.
Their election as leaders of the parliament came hours before Marcos’ visit to Cotabato City, the seat of the BARMM government, to address the officials of the caretaker BTA.
Ebrahim, Balindong, and the other BTA members would serve as caretakers of the BARMM until the region holds its first elections in 2025.
Its members represent the BARMM provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Sulu, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi, including parts of Cotabato province, non-Moro indigenous peoples, a Kalagan community in Davao Oriental, and settler-communities in Davao City and Cotabato City.
Of its 80 members, 41 were nominees of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) while 39 others were top picks of the national government. – Rappler.com