By Noel Punzalan and Edwin Fernandez
COTABATO CITY: Local leaders from the different provinces within the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) have a lot to be thankful about to President Rodrigo Duterte who brought peace to Mindanao, particularly in ending the decades-old Moro rebellion.
Following the President’s last State of the Nation Address Monday, Maguindanao Governor Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu said peace would remain elusive in Mindanao if not for Duterte.
“How I wish President Duterte could stay longer after his term ends next year to sustain the programs he initiated in Muslim Mindanao,” Mangudadatu said in a radio interview Monday.
In his address, Duterte took pride in signing the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) that paved the way for the establishment of the now two-year-old BARMM.
On July 26, 2018, he signed Republic Act 11054, otherwise known as the BOL, which paved the way for the establishment of the fledgling BARMM.
The BOL was ratified through a plebiscite held on Jan. 21 and Feb. 26, 2019, replacing the decades-old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The BARMM, currently led by former members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, once the largest Moro rebel group in Mindanao, has under its jurisdiction the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan, and Marawi; the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi; and the 63 villages in six towns of North Cotabato.
Mayor Marop Ampatuan of Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao described Duterte as “unselfish”, saying his fellow Mindanaoan preferred other regions in Luzon and Visayas to be developed first before Davao City, the president’s hometown.
“This is a selfless act of character. The creation and continuing development of BARMM alone is his legacy to the Bangsamoro people,” Ampatuan said.
The mayor also lauded the President’s action against the continuing fight on illegal drugs, criminalities, and corruption, citing the BARMM is currently advocating campaigns for “moral governance” in support of the Duterte administration’s agenda.
“We will support the President a hundred percent in his campaign against all forms of criminal acts as he has yet one year to complete his term of office,” Ampatuan said.
BARMM Member of Parliament Zia Alonto Adiong was happy that Duterte directly ordered the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) to hasten the rehabilitation of Marawi City that was ravaged by a five-month battle between government forces and the Maute terror group in 2017.
“That’s a direct order from the President to the TFBM. Finish the rebuilding of Marawi so that the residents can return to their homes the soonest possible time,” Adiong said.
Adiong, a Maranao, was also waiting for the President to mention calls for extension of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority but was overtaken by other matters tackled during the SONA.
“The establishment and reigning peace alone in BARMM are enough that the President is a man who keeps his promises,” Adiong said.
Cotabato City Councilor Bruce Matabalao said the city has benefited from the peace now being enjoyed in the BARMM as it is currently the provisional seat of the new autonomous region.
“Commercial buildings are sprouting everywhere and banking remains stable. The city government should also be commended for welcoming new developments here when it comes to business projects,” he said.
Col. Rommel Javier, city police director, thanked Duterte for the continuous support to the military and police forces in the fight against crimes and terrorism.
“Thank you, Mr. President, we are with you all the way in our fight against all forms of criminalities against the people,” he said.
Philippine News Agency