THE Salaam Movement, an organization that started in Ateneo de Davao University in 2016 with several affiliated groups and organizations in Mindanao and Manila, has issued a statement recognizing the efforts of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in endorsing Chairman Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim to head the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.
On the day of the Eidl Adaha celebration last August 21, 2018, the MILF Central Committee officially endorsed to President Rodrigo Duterte the appointment of Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim as interim chief minister of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority immediately after the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
The Salaam Movement statement stated, “Through the decades of the Moro struggle, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was borne out of the need to recognise the Bangsamoro’s sovereign rights to liberty, property, and self-determination. Soon to become a socio-political movement, they will now be mandated to promote good governance on every level of discourse.
Strong, consistent leadership is the key to lasting, unifying peace in the Bangsamoro and in Mindanao. As such, we recognise the efforts of the MILF Central Committee in endorsing its chairman, Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim, to lead the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.
No one can doubt his leadership, his years of service and dedication to the Moro cause, and his respect amongst the various Moro fronts. What the Bangsamoro needs now is a charismatic, morally-sound, and competent leader in bringing us forward to the next step of our shared nation-building.
A collective effort is needed, in order to assure future generations to come will be living in safe, protected, and developed regions. We in the Salaam Movement, enjoin our fellow youth to show a united front in serving the people of the Bangsamoro, and of the Philippines.”
There were various reactions from the civil society organizations and academia regarding the MILF’s endorsement. One professor from a state university compared this move to the past experience of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) when Chairman Nur Misuari headed the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The said professor wished Al Hajj Murad “good luck” and a warning that “Philippine politics can be so corrosive even on the most protected, stainless steel.”
Philippine politics is indeed complex. Therefore, the development of the Bangsamoro must be inclusive and focus on holistic human development approach.
In an article by Dr. Christopher Ryan Maboloc, a professor from Ateneo de Davao University, describes Philippine politics in this manner, “Since the time of President Quezon, politics in the Philippines has not been insulated from the submissive requirements of a patronage system that dates back to the Spanish period. Vicente Rafael writes that “the patron-client relationship between God and king has a long history, stretching back to the Reconquista of the Middle Ages...” The Spanish regime exploited the Filipino not only by means of tributes and bribes, but by elevating a privileged class of mestizos called principales, the precursor of our modern-day politicos.”
This description is also present in the context of Mindanao and the Bangsamoro. Thus, the transition period for the Bangsamoro is a huge challenge to all of us. The Salaam Movement’s statement raises a challenge to all Bangsamoro to work together and set aside bi-partisan politics and personal interests.
The move of the MILF showed that they valued the principle of 'consensus building' and put high regard to moral grounds. It is inspiring to see their initiative. However, the problems within the Bangsamoro cannot be the Chief Minister’s personal concern. It is the concern of every Bangsamoro. We need to have a unified moral vision as an Ummah to work together.