BARMM officials deny rumored resignation of ‘Commander Bravo’

Published January 11, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ali Macabalang 

COTABATO CITY – Hadji Abdullah Macapaar, a fierce freedom fighter-turned parliament member of the Bangsamoro autonomous entity, has not resigned from office, and is still pursuing the peaceful path towards building “good governance” in Muslim Mindanao, officials clarified on Saturday.

Bangsamoro parliament member Abdullah “Kumander Bravo” Macapaar (Left) and his consultant Rajiv Tamos Balindong (Right) (BARMM Handout Photo via Ali Macabalang / MANILA BULLETIN)
Bangsamoro parliament member Abdullah “Kumander Bravo” Macapaar (Left) and his consultant Rajiv Tamos Balindong (Right) (BARMM Handout Photo via Ali Macabalang / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Not true (and) rhetoric only,” lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, spokesman of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), told the Manila Bulletin, referring to Facebook posts that reported Macapaar’s resignation.

Sinarimbo, concurrent BARMM’s Interior and Local Government minister, appealed to netizens to observe prudence in posting messages, saying that these should be “true and informative to inspire understanding and unity, not confusion or dissension.”

Earlier, some online posts claimed that Macapaar had tendered his resignation as member of parliament due to his “displeasure” with circumstances characterizing the BARMM bureaucracy in its first year of existence.

Comments from many Muslim and Christian professionals, who expressed anxieties over his reported “change of heart”, then became viral.

Macapaar, more known as “Commander Bravo” in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), gained prominence for leading bloody attacks in some towns in the Lanao provinces, particularly during the Estrada regime’s “all-out war” in 2000 and in 2008 when the Supreme Court nullified the Arroyo government’s written accord with the MILF on ancestral domain.

To dispel these rumors, Macapaar’s Chief of Staff Salahuddin Noory Bin Anshary has come up  with an official statement on the matter.

“Walang katotohanan ang kumakalat na balita na siya (Macapaar) ay nagbitiw bilang myembro ng BTA (Bangsamoro Transition Authority) parliament,” Anshary was quoted as saying.

Anshary and other technical staff of Macapaar launched a probe on the identities of the people behind the rumors, Rajiv Tamos Balindong, a consultant of the MILF fighter-turned government partner, said in a Facebook post.

Macapaar was one of the first batch of MILF leaders named by President Duterte to the 80-member BTA legislature in February last year.

His Presidential appointment came along with that of MILF Chairman Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim, Mohagher Iqbal and Abdulraof “Sammy Al-Mansoor” Macacua, presently BARMM chief minister, minister of education, and executive secretary cum minister of environment, respectively.

The President inaugurated the formal operations of the BARMM parliament and bureaucracy on March 29, 2019, and committed the national government’s full support for the new autonomous government to become a catalyst of peace and progress in southern Philippines, particularly in Muslim Mindanao.

BARMM replaced the 29-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) under R.A. 11054, which the President signed into law in July 2018 and was ratified in the January 2019 plebiscite.

The transition of BARMM from ARMM involved some hitches, notably in the prescribed mass layoff of 6,000 regular workers of the defunct governance. It also entails devolution of national powers not given to the ARMM bureaucracy.

The President created last November the inter-governmental relations body (IGRB) led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Minister Iqbal to coordinate and hasten the process of devolution.