MANILA, Philippines – Not everyone in the new Bangsamoro autonomous region is happy that President Rodrigo Duterte is inclined to appoint Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol as head of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).
After his possible appointment was announced by Duterte, members of Bangsamoro groups, including members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), have been airing their negative views about Piñol in private.
Even BTA Interim Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim acknowledged this sentiment, though he maintained that he would respect Piñol's appointment if it comes to pass.
"It's the President's prerogative who he will appoint because that comes with Cabinet rank. But our observation is, with due respect to Secretary Manny, he isn't very popular among the Bangsamoro," Murad told Rappler on Tuesday, July 9.
Those who reject Piñol see him as "very anti-Bangsamoro struggle for self-determination," said Murad, citing Piñol's involvement in opposing an early agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government.
Piñol, as North Cotabato governor, was one of the Mindanaoan officials who filed a petition to nullify the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), an agreement reached by the government then, and the MILF.
In August 2008, a day before the MOA-AD was supposed to be signed, the Supreme Court (SC) issued a temporary restraining order, which stopped the signing. This led outraged MILF forces to occupy parts of North Cotabato and raid parts of Lanao del Norte and Sarangani.
Months later, in October, the SC declared the agreement unconstitutional.
The MILF, the Muslim group that fought for the MOA-AD, is now the dominant force in the BTA, the interim government tasked to lead the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the product of successful agreement between the MILF and the government.
Murad, BTA chief, is also MILF chairman.
Duterte to consider views
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, on Tuesday, said Duterte is likely to consider the views of BTA members and the Bangsamoro people when finalizing his choice for MinDA secretary.
"I suppose the President will take any factor being introduced by concerned players in that region. Of course, the President will consider all that," said Panelo during a Malacañang news briefing.
Duterte himself had said he would consult Murad first about his plan to appoint Piñol. The Chief Executive has said Piñol could end up leading MinDA or with the more vague role of being his "point person" for the Bangsamoro region.
Duterte said he thinks such a role is necessary because he found the progress being made by the BTA too slow. Last June 25, he told the BTA to "hurry up" and cited a supposed communication "breakdown" between him and its leaders.
Murad has asked to meet with Duterte on Wednesday, July 10. Panelo was unable to confirm if the meeting will push through. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.