COTABATO CITY, March 29, 2019 – With a bang of a gong, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Friday officially inaugurated the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) inside the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex.

The BARMM is an offshoot of the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) last February that the President himself campaigned for.

“May I just express in front of you my extreme happiness. It gives me the high that we were able to realize at least a part of what the entire country have wished for the Bangsamoro in Mindanao,” Duterte said referring to the Bangsamoro government at the ceremony.

The President’s statement generated thunderous applause from the audience inside the theater-like complex.

Duterte said he trusts the leaders of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the interim government, to work for the “succeeding generations of the Filipinos especially the Moros in Mindanao.”

“As we enter the transition period, I ask everyone to work towards building lasting peace and inclusive progress that will benefit all Mindanaons and entire country,” the President said.

“As we mark a new chapter in our history I call upon all Bangsamoro to take advantage of this opportunity and finally correct the historical injustice and forget the bitterness of the past so that we embrace each other as Filipinos,” he emphasized.

Before the President ended his speech, he reiterated the promise he made during his last visit in Cotabato City during the campaign for the BOL.

“My solemn promise to you is a sacred one which I also promised to Allah. In my term and for the next three years, we will work and truly work for the benefit of the Bangsamoro,” he said.

On Friday, the members of the BTA conducted their maiden session with the election of a new set of officers of the BARMM.

The BTA elected former Lanao del Sur Congressman Ali Pangalian Balindong as the speaker of the interim parliamentary-form government, while Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Hatimil Hassan was voted as the deputy speaker.

Lanang Ali, Jr. and former executive secretary of the ARMM Laisa Masuhud Alamia were elected as majority and minority floor leader respectively.

The BTA also named Raby Angkal as secretary-general and Dan Dimakenal as sergeant-at-arms.

Al Hajj Ahod Ebrahim or better known as Murad Ebrahim, the interim chief minister, emphasized the five pillars that the BTA will work on under his leadership. These are education, health, economic development, strategic infrastructure, and moral leadership.

“We shall prioritize the approval of the transition plan that will define the organizational structure of the BARMM and gradual phasing out of the offices,” he said in his inaugural speech.

The chief minister said the ceremony marks a history for the Bangsamoro people with a “new kind of jihad–a jihad against poverty, against want, and against neglect.”

“When we started the revolution, we took an oath to the Quran. Today, as we start our governance, we will also do the same,” Ebrahim said as he led the BTA members in an oath on the holy Quran.

Ebrahim said they have been “guided in our armed struggle by the tenets of Islam. We will also be guided by the teaching of Islam in delivering the trust that has been given to us.”

“To run the Bangsamoro Government through the brand of leadership Islam advocates–that is moral governance,” he noted.

“It signifies our collective resolve to institute good governance in the Bangsamoro Region,” he said, adding that “as we start the Bangsmaoro government, we vow to make moral governance as the foundation of this leadership.”

Ebrahim said they will also continue the fight against illegal drugs.

In a statement, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. said five years after the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), “the Moro and non-Moro people in the new autonomous region are now gradually enjoying the peace dividends from the said agreement.”

“At the heart of the peace agreement is the transformation process, which covers not only the establishment of the BARMM, the creation of a new political structure, and the changing of the lives of the people in the area, but also providing social justice, healing, and reconciliation,” he said.

“The Bangsamoro is now undergoing a renaissance period. A new dawn has finally emerged in the region,” he added

The Peace Adviser noted that the only way to truly bring to life the CAB is for everyone to “be on board the peace process and contribute to the success of all the signed Bangsamoro peace agreements.”###