Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao interim chief minister takes oath

February 22, 2019
Rodrigo Duterte and Murad Ebrahim
President Rodrigo Duterte (L) shakes hands with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Murad Ebrahim during the Ceremonial Confirmation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law Plebescite Law Canvass Results and Oath-taking of Transition Authority at the Malacanang palace in Manila on February 22, 2019. / AFP / Noel CELIS

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte swore in Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim on Friday as the interim Chief Minister of the newly formed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Murad will lead the 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), which will govern the five-province Bangsamoro region until the election of the regular members of its Parliament in 2022.

“I am also pleased to announce the appointment of MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim as interim Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority,” said Duterte in his speech after the oath-taking.

As Chief Minister, Murad will head the BTA, the entity that will lead the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in its first few years.

Murad’s appointment was expected since he was chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Muslim group that had negotiated peace agreements with the government which eventually led to the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

Under the BOL, the MILF is tasked to lead the BARMM in its critical transition period, 2019 until 2022, when the new region will elect its leaders for the first time.

Murad had said he had done all he can to prepare himself for the role of chief minister.

“I’ve exhausted all means to prepare myself and to prepare my people,” he had said.

Murad knows the task ahead is daunting.

“This period is a difficult struggle and it is a struggle against ourselves. Basically because we see that unless we are able to change, to eradicate all the ills of the government, the corruption, the nepotism, all of this, then it will just be a change of leadership, but the same system,” he said.

“Our success for change is we have to really change ourselves,” he added.

The BARMM was created by virtue of the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which was a product of the government’s negotiations with the MILF.

The two-round plebiscite showed the new region will be composed of the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi as well as Marawi City, Lamitan City, Cotabato City and 63 villages in North Cotabato.

The incumbent elected officials of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which the BARMM replaced, will also be part of the BTA until June 30, 2019, or until their term ends.