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Muslim official warns of increased resistance

Splinter Muslim rebel groups might increase their resistance if the transition period toward a more independent Bangsamoro region in Mindanao is not extended, according to the region’s chief minister.

Extending the period to 2025 would ensure that the fruits of the peace process are reaped, Ahod B. Ebrahim, chief minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, told an online news briefing on Friday.

“If the transition is not extended, we will go back to zero,” he said. “There are groups waiting for the Bangsamoro region to fail. They will exploit the failure.”

At least three bills have been filed at the House of Representatives seeking to extend the term of the Bangsamoro Transition Council for three more years. The first regular elections for the Bangsamoro Parliament is set for May 2022.

The Bangsamoro Organic Law that took effect in 2019 established the new autonomous region that replaced the Autonomous Region in Muslim in Mindanao. It was meant to give the people of southern Philippines the right to self-determination and governance.

Mr. Ebrahim said the Transition Council needs more time to implement the region’s programs, including bringing Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters back to civilian life. It also seeks to win over more armed groups in Mindanao.
The council has yet to disarm fighters and commanders outside the peace process.

“With the lot of tasks given to us, we cannot complete them until 2022. That is why there are calls for extension,” Mr. Ebrahim said.

Meanwhile, a lawmaker sought a review of the transition period.

Basilan Rep. Mujiv S. Hataman said the review seeks to look at allegations of corruption including “anomalous disbursements” in the region’s infrastructure projects worth P107 billion.

The International Organization for Migration, British Embassy Manila and the German government on Friday handed over medical vehicles and equipment to the region’s Ministry of Health to boost efforts against the coronavirus. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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