BARMM controversy brews over alleged Malacañang plan to replace Murad in 2025

Ferdinandh Cabrera

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BARMM controversy brews over alleged Malacañang plan to replace Murad in 2025

SPEAK. South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr speaks in Malacanang during a gathering in 2023.

Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. FB page

Maguindanao del Sur Governor Mariam Mangudadatu says the alleged plan is to replace BARMM Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim with Maguindanao del Norte Governor Abdulraof Macacua

COTABATO, Philippines – The leader of the administration Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) allegedly sought the support of town mayors in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) for Malacañang’s supposed plans to make Maguindanao del Norte Governor Abdulraof Macacua the next chief minister of the Muslim-majority region.

Maguindanao del Sur Governor Mariam Mangudadatu said several mayors informed her that PFP president and South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. told them during a June 24 meeting in Manila that BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim would be replaced by Macacua.

Ebrahim, the leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has been serving as interim BARMM chief minister since 2019, with an extended term until the first parliamentary elections of the five-year-old autonomous region scheduled for 2025.

Macacua, meanwhile, used to head the MILF’s armed forces and served as BARMM senior minister until early 2023 when President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. appointed him as officer-in-charge slash governor of Maguindanao del Norte. The one-year-old province is one of two political territories carved out of the now-defunct Maguindanao through a law ratified via a referendum in September 2022.

Ebrahim and Macacua are both eligible to seek elective positions in the 2025 elections.

Murad out, Sammy in?

Mangudadatu, one of the BARMM governors working in a coalition to loosen the MILF’s political grip on the region, said town mayors from Lanao del Sur who attended the meeting quoted Tamayo as saying, “Aalisin natin si Kagi Murad at tayo ay maglalagay diyan. At ilalagay natin si Sammy Gambar.”

(We will remove Kagi Murad and put another one there. We will put Sammy Gambar there.)

“Kagi Murad” refers to Ebrahim, while “Sammy Gambar” is the nom de guerre used by Macacua when he led the military arm of the MILF, which ended its decades-long rebellion in Mindanao after a political settlement with the government in 2014.

Mangudadatu and her group have thrown their support behind the likely bid of Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan for BARMM’s top post.

Mangudadatu said this following allegations made by Kapatagan, Lanao del Sur Mayor Raida Maglangit that Tamayo threatened that the Commission on Audit (COA) would be weaponized against BARMM mayors unless they supported the MILF’s political party, the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) in next year’s elections.

The UBJP and Tamayo’s PFP have forged a political alliance.

Tamayo confirmed that he met with the mayors but denied that he threatened that they would be subjected to a strict audit if they chose to support groups working against the UBJP. He said it was a case of misinterpretation.

Mayors’ manifesto

A group of town mayors in Lanao del Sur issued a statement on Tuesday, July 2, corroborating Maglangit’s account of their meeting with Tamayo.

In the July 2 manifesto, a copy of which was furnished to Rappler by Maglangit, the mayors’ group recounted that they were called to a function room shortly before they met with Marcos at Diamond Hotel.

There, the South Cotabato governor supposedly told them that he was under instructions from Marcos to say to them that the President wanted BARMM to remain under the leadership of the MILF for at least one more term because the decommissioning process has yet to be completed.

Decommissioning, in the context of the BARMM and MILF, involves disarming, demobilizing, and reintegrating former MILF combatants into civilian life, a process that is part of the 2014 peace agreement. The process includes collecting and deactivating weapons, providing livelihood assistance, and offering other support to aid their integration into society.

They alleged that Tamayo also told them that Marcos wanted them to support the candidates that the administration would field in the BARMM in the 2025 elections and that Malacañang would know those who would not support the UBJP.

The manifesto quoted Tamayo as telling the mayors: “Ngayon, kung hindi ka susunod sa kanya, ibig sabihin, maganda yung governance mo, di ba? … So ngayon, dahil maganda yung governance meron ka, papasilip ngayon ng Pangulo yun para ipapareplika natin sa ibang mga munisipyo, di ba? Ibig sabihin, papupuntahan natin yun ng, papupuntahin natin ng taga-central office ng COA. Iche-check, napakaganda pala ng governance nya. Isasubmit doon, irereplicate natin sa iba. Ganun!”

(Now, if you don’t follow him (Marcos), it means your governance is good, right? … So now, because your governance is good, the President will have it inspected so we can replicate it in other municipalities, right? This means we will send someone from the central office of COA to check it. If your governance is really good, we will submit it there and replicate it in others. That’s how it is!)

Maglangit and the Lanao del Sur mayors’ group said the pronouncements “were clearly and unmistakably a veiled threat.”

During the same meeting, they said Tamayo also “declared that there will be reshuffling in the BARMM and even the Chief Minister (Ebrahim) will be replaced.”

‘Treacherous’ recording leak

The manifesto was released even as an audio recording, supposedly of that meeting, was posted on the pro-BGC Facebook page Fahima Salik TV, and went viral. In the audio recording, a man who sounded like Tamayo can be heard saying the same thing.

Mayor Ali Sumandar of Piagapo town in Lanao del Sur said he heard the audio recording and it “is what it is because that was the meeting.”

Tamayo cried foul on Wednesday, July 3, and threatened to sue those behind the spread of the audio recording, calling the act “treacherous.”

“It was a private communication with the mayors and not meant for publicity,” Tamayo told Rappler.

Tamayo declined to say anything about Malacañang’s alleged plan to replace Ebrahim and install Macacua as BARMM chief minister. He said, “Our conversations with Malacañang officials and mayors are confidential matters and not for public use.”

He said lawyers were also looking into the possibility of bringing those behind the spread of the audio recording to court. –

1 comment

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  1. ET

    This is another Philippine political circus limited to BARMM. Threats, leaks, secret plans, and other factors create this BARMM political drama. I hope it will remain a political drama with no “action” or “crime” element until after next year’s election period ends.

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