By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The bombing at the Jolo Cathedral in Sulu last Sunday should put to test officials of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who are poised to lead the interim Bangsamoro autonomous government, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said Tuesday.
This was the assessment made by Recto as he noted that the twin explosions which left at least 20 dead and some 100 wounded in Jolo, Sulu, “is no longer the sole responsibility of the national government but a joint venture with the Bangsamoro leaders.”
In his statement, the Senate leader said “rebels-turned-government-officials” must participate and help in solving the attack as well as in preventing the repeat of similar incidents in the region.
“The search for the perpetrators, for justice, for lasting solutions will be made easy with help of Bangsamoro leaders,” Recto said.
The MILF is expected to lead the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), which, under the Bangsamoro Organic Law, will act as an interim government in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) during its transition to the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The BTA will be formed upon the ratification of the BOL, and shall govern the region until the elections for BARMM leaders on June 30, 2019.
Last year, the MILF central committee voted their chairman Hadji Murad Ebrahim to be the chief minister of the BTA.
Recto, on the other hand, said that while the MILF-led BTA shares responsibility over the government’s problem on terrorist attacks, he noted that all resources promised in the BOL, including funding, must be given without delay.
“We cannot ask them to do this without providing them with resources and authority,” Recto said.
“Give them the means, so they can accomplish the mission. Once we devolve the funds, we also devolve the task of solving many local problems. That’s the understanding,” he added.
But Recto reiterated that the MILF, even without the fund, can show early on their initiatives in fighting terrorism in the region.
“They cannot be fence-sitters on this. Para ipakita na (So that they can show that) this is a preview of the kind of governance we will implement,” Recto said.
“Kung mayroong nanabotahe sa kapayapaan, dapat tumulong sila sa pagsuplong (If there are groups who want to sabotage peace efforts in the region, they should help in arresting them),” he added.