'New level of struggle' for Moro leaders, as Bangsamoro transition body takes over ARMM

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 26) — From Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to the new Bangsamoro region.

The ceremonial turnover and transition from the ARMM to the new entity took place Tuesday in Cotabato City.

The 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), which was sworn in by President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday officially assumes leadership, as the interim government gears up for the new challenge of attaining peace in Mindanao.

 

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, who was appointed as the interim chief minister, led the historic turnover rites together with outgoing ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman.

"Nasa bagong kabanata na tayo. Iisa tayo kaya ipakita natin sa lahat kung ano ang kayang gawin ng nagkakaisang Bangsamoro," Hataman said in his speech.

[Translation: We are entering a new chapter. We are united so let's show everyone what a united Bangsamoro (region) can achieve.]

Hataman added Filipino-Muslims should set aside individual differences, especially those stemming from pride because of tribal affiliation.

During the ceremony, Murad also named some Cabinet members for the Bangsamoro government, which will be parliamentary-democratic in form.

The list includes MILF peace panel's Mohagher Iqbal (education), Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces Chief of Staff Abdulraof Macacua (environment and natural resources, energy), MILF Central Committee member Eduard Guerra (finance, budget and management), and Bangsamoro Transition Commissioner Raissa Jajurie (social services).

MILF Vice Chair for Political Affairs Ghadzali Jaafar was named as the speaker of the parliament, while Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo will be the Minister for the Local Government.

Murad will hold his concurrent position as the Public Works Minister.

 

Murad earlier admitted the BTA that includes Moro rebels faces a new level of struggle, as some members are expected to transition from the "revolutionary to governance."

"Although we have been in the struggle for several decades, the next level of the struggle is far different from what we have done during the past years. So this is really basically a transformation from a revolutionary to governance," Murad earlier said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

While three years may seem short for an interim government, Murad said the BTA will still make the most of the period.

The BTA will be composed of 41 members from the MILF, and 39 government appointees. The official list of names, however, has yet to be released by Malacañang as of this writing.

The transition body will have legislative and executive powers during the transition period until the first local election takes place in 2022.

The ratification of the Bangsamoro law officially abolished the ARMM, which was established in 1989 through Republic Act No. 6734.

The new region will cover the areas in the current ARMM, except Isabela City in Basilan, Cotabato City and 63 North Cotabato barangays (villages) which petitioned for inclusion.

READ: Misuari's MNLF faction won't recognize Bangsamoro Transition Authority, spokesman says

CNN Philippines' David Santos, Alyssa Rola, and Xave Gregorio contributed to this report.