Tensions rise in BARMM as Marcos allies allegedly threaten COA use vs Murad’s foes

Ferdinandh Cabrera

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Tensions rise in BARMM as Marcos allies allegedly threaten COA use vs Murad’s foes

MEETING. Local officials share a light moment with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during a June 24, 2024 meeting in Manila. From left: Special Assistant to the President Antonio Lagdameo Jr., Tawi-Tawi Governor Yshmael Sali, BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, Marcos, South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr., Maguindanao del Norte Governor Abdulraof Gambar, and Basilan Governor Jim Salliman.


BARMM Chief Minister Al Haj Murad Ebrahim's opponents tell Partido Federal ng Pilipinas president and South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. to stay out of BARMM politics

COTABATO, Philippines – Allies of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. allegedly threatened to weaponize the Commission on Audit (COA) against local leaders in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) unless they supported BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim’s group in the 2025 parliamentary elections.

Speaking during the provincial launch of the BARMM Grand Coalition (BGC) in Bongao, Tawi-tawi, on Saturday, June 29, Mayor Raida Maglangit of Kapatagan, Lanao del Sur, alleged that South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. warned that BARMM local governments with local chief executives who do not support the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) would be subjected to strict audit.

The UBJP is the political party of the Ebrahim-led Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has allied with the administration Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) headed by Tamayo.

Reynaldo Tamayo Jr South Cotabato governor
SPEAK. Partido Federal ng Pilipinas president and South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr speaks in Malacanang during a gathering in 2023. – Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. FB page

One of the leaders of the BGC, Maguindanao del Sur Governor Mariam Mangudadatu, sharply criticized Tamayo and other officials closely associated with Marcos in Basilan on Sunday, June 30, accusing them of name-dropping the President to weaken the political dissent against Ebrahim and the UBJP.

Mangudadatu claimed that she had exchanged text messages with Tamayo who allegedly told her about the Marcos administration’s plans in the BARMM, which would need support from local officials to Ebrahim’s group.

According to Maglangit, Special Assistant to the President Antonio Lagdameo called a meeting with local officials in the BARMM at the Diamond Hotel in Manila on June 24, where they were allegedly threatened that the Marcos administration would weaponize the COA against them if they did not support Ebrahim’s group. Marcos came and met with them.

“Last week lang po pianatwag kami sa Manila. Para po ano yan pilitin kami na suportahan ang UBJP…. Ang masakit po doon, tinatakot po nila kami na pag hindi kami sumuporta sa UBJP ay ipapa-audit nila kami,” Maglangit alleged.

(Just last week, we were called to Manila. They pressured us into supporting the UBJP… What’s bothersome was that they threatened to have us audited if we didn’t support UBJP.)

Maglangit alleged that the warning came from Tamayo, the PFP national president. 

She said she responded to Tamayo’s threat by daring him to immediately send state auditors to investigate her town government’s finances and work.


Maglangit and Mangudadatu lambasted Tamayo for allegedly interfering in BARMM politics, pointing out he is a provincial governor from another Mindanao region.

“Bakit po kayo sobrang nakikialam sa BARMM? Bakit taga-BARMM po ba kayo? Nararamdaman niyo po ba ang aming nararamdaman? Nararanasan niyo po ba ang hirap na pinagdadaanan namin?” Maglangit said in reference to the South Cotabato governor from the neighboring Soccsksargen region.

(Why are you so involved in BARMM? Are you from BARMM? Do you feel what we feel? Do you experience the hardships we go through?)

In Maluso, Basilan, on Sunday, June 30, Mangudadatu, Governor Abdusakur Tan of Sulu, and Basilan Representative Mujiv Hataman said they doubted that Marcos was aware of the alleged political maneuverings of people closely associated with him in favor of the UBJP.

“Stop name-dropping the President. There are a few people in his circle destroying the name of the President,” said Mangudadatu, citing text messages allegedly sent to her by Tamayo.

Tan, who has declared his intention to challenge Ebrahim’s likely bid to get elected as BARMM’s chief minister in 2025, said he and his allies in the BGC think Marcos was unaware of the maneuverings and that the President only wanted to do away with the political discord in the BARMM and unify the region’s political groups.

“The BGC calls for the truth to come out. It calls for those who subvert the truth to be held accountable, along with those who would go against the principles of fair, transparent, and peaceful elections – principles that have been espoused by the national leadership,” read part of a statement released by BGC about the allegations against Tamayo.

Mangudadatu said the BGC has already picked Tan as its bet for the BARMM chief minister’s post in the 2925 elections.

Addressing Tamayo, she said, “Kaya ‘wag mo kami piliting ipakain sa amin ang bagay na ayaw namin gawin. Dahil meron na po kaming napili kung sino ang mamuno sa BARMM region.”

(So don’t force us to swallow something we don’t want. We have already chosen who will lead the BARMM region.)


Tamayo denied warning local officials in the BARMM that the COA would be weaponized against those who would refuse to join the UBJP. He said he used the word “ipinasisilip” (cause to be looked into), which was then taken out of context.

“There was a misinterpretation. We have not said that. What I meant by ipinasisilip are the success stories of every local government unit in BARMM that are model practices for the push for a federal form of government,” Tamayo told Rappler.

As the party’s name suggests, the PFP has been advocating for a shift from the present presidential form of government to parliamentary by 2034.

BARMM, is a special and predominantly Muslim region in Mindanao with a parliamentary form of regional government, the result of a political settlement between the government and the Ebrahim-led MILF.

Old rhetoric

UBJP spokesperson Mohajirin Ali accused Maglangit of resorting to fabrications at the expense of the UBJP.

“We are used to her old rhetoric and malicious attacks. It’s not new to us,” said Ali.

According to Ali, Maglangit is the same local official who allegedly made up stories about teachers’ positions for sale in the BARMM Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE). He said Maglangit chose not to cooperate and substantiate her allegations when the BARMM looked into her accusations.

Ali said the meeting in Manila, which Maglangit referred to, was meant to help ensure the success of the elections in the BARMM and had nothing to do with the UBJP.

“It was for a peaceful, accountable, and transparent BARMM elections, and not to force anyone to join the UBJP,” he said.

BARMM has a history of turbulent elections, and concerns are rising that next year’s polls could be even more contentious. UBJP is on a collision course with the BGC, an alliance formed by entrenched political dynasties from various provinces in the region.

Included in the BGC are the Al-Ittihad-UKB Party of the Mangudadatu family, the SIAP Party of Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr., the Bangsamoro People’s Party (BPP) of Hataman, and Tan’s Salam Party.

The UBJP, meanwhile, counts the support of Tawi-Tawi Governor Mang Sali, Basilan Governor Jim Salliman, Maguindanao del Norte Governor Abdulraof Macacua, and Cotabato City Mayor Bruce Matabalao. –

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