PASIG CITY — Following the oath-taking of the 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) last week, several civil society organizations (CSOs) in Mindanao threw their full support behind the interim Bangsamoro government.

According to Hashim Manticayan of the League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO), the event was “a [realization of the] quest for genuine peace in the Bangsamoro with the appointment of new BTA members” and a “wake-up call to all to choose the path of peace and unity.”

“By sustaining the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) at the helm of BTA leadership, putting a significant number of Misuari and Sema-Jikiri factions in the BTA, reappointing previous non-MILF BTA members, and appointing new members from different sectors who are supportive of the peace process and Bangsamoro government, President [Ferdinand] Marcos [Jr.] is strongly sending the message to all to support the call for unity, peace, and development in the Bangsamoro and the entire country,” said Manticayan.

BTA: A ‘problem solving institution’

Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society Chairperson Guiamel Alim lauded the appointment of the new BTA members, describing them as “one problem-solving institution which can address the long-pending development in the BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.”

“The challenges ahead are great. Membership in the BTA is one thing. Doing the tasks required of the members is another thing. Perhaps the intention of choosing different forces is to build strong social cohesion and the Moro consensus,” Alim said.

“Show us. Prove to us that you deserve to be in the BTA. Time is running out. Expectations are growing high. The Bangsamoro is giving you the benefit of the doubt,” he added.

Inclusive membership, social accountability

According to Abel Moya, director of the Iligan City-based PAKIGDAIT Inc., he was very happy with the inclusive composition of the new BTA.

“The BTA composition is very good regarding wider conflict-sensitive and peace-promoting (CSPP) representation,” Moya said.

Kapatut Bangsa Sug, Inc., Founding Chairman Nelson Mukarram reminded BTA members of their mission to ensure “social accountability.”

This, Mukarram, said, is a fulfillment of their promise to represent all sectors in the Bangsamoro, adding that “no one must be left behind in terms of Peace, Progress and Development.”

Meanwhile, PUSAKA, INC. Executive Director Farserina Mohammad noted that with the inclusion into the BTA of the children of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chairman Nur Misuari, he is “more than healing and very much hopeful.”

“When we see leaders (now mostly the second generation) come together and start talking, it gives a different feeling of relief. It is essential for the BTA to succeed in crafting appropriate legislation and effective governance. It must be clear to communities what success means to their leaders or their representatives,” Mohammad said.

“They must clearly understand the process and know where all this is taking them. The extension offered the MILF leadership all other ingredients they needed to establish a strong bureaucracy in preparation for what they conceived as an Autonomous Bangsamoro government,” he added.

Unity amidst diversity

Dr. Bai Padoman Guro Paporo, lead convener of the Marawi CSOs Convergence Group of the Marawi Rehabilitation, expressed her gratitude to President Marcos for showing “unity in diversity” with his appointment of the new BTA members.

“They deserve all that is good for the common TAO in BARMM, sustaining the principles of moral governance with integrity, involvement, transparency, accountability, fairness, and absence of corruption,” Paporo said.

Meanwhile, the Mindanao Peoples Caucus and the CSO Movement for Moral Governance released a statement on Sunday lauding the new composition of the BTA as “a fresh start for the representatives of the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front), under the leadership of Chairman Nur Misuari.”

“This is a highly welcome development that must be constantly nurtured and supported during the transition period,” the statement said.

“We note with great appreciation the significant increase of women members from 13 to 16, which make up 20% of the total membership of the BTA. We call on the women BTA members to unite and work together to bring about meaningful changes in the status and condition of women, especially those in war-ravaged communities and conflict-affected areas,” the statement added.

The CSO group also congratulated the men and women of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity, under the leadership of Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., for the “unrelenting efforts to sustain and protect the gains of the peace process.”

It had also supported the President’s call for the BTA members to work together and effectively carry out their mandate in the next three years in order to accomplish the remaining targets under the political and normalization tracks of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro during the extended transition period.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. vowed to fully support the completion of the implementation of all signed Bangsamoro peace agreements by June 30, 2025, saying there will be no more extension of the transition period, and the first election of the 80-member Bangsamoro Parliament will be held in May 2025.###

[Photo courtesy of the Office of the President]