DENG Xiaoping famously said "It doesn't matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice." Back when I was a Commissioner of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) under the Duterte administration, our Chairman, the late Hajji Salik B. Abu more commonly known as Ghazali Jaafar, always reminded us of that quote. It was the strategy we adopted when we navigated our ways in dealing with Congress and the national government in passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law which eventually became the Republic Act 11054 or Bangsamoro Organic Law.

Few days ago, after the celebration of Eidl Fitr, the political dilemma in Maguindanao del Norte was finally settled. It took no other than the First Lady of the Republic to bring our political leaders to come to their senses and arrive at a political compromise that will benefit the Bangsamoro people. Whether the political settlement will last in the upcoming political exercises, we do not know yet.

As we move forward, I would like to share a small piece of advice from the former Chinese paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping principle that says “tao guang yang hui”, which translates to “keeping a low profile until we have capabilities”. This principle emphasizes the importance of being cautious and strategic in achieving goals, especially in times of weakness and vulnerability. It encourages leaders to avoid unnecessary attention or confrontation until they have sufficient power and resources to achieve desired outcomes. This principle can be applied to the situation in the Bangsamoro transition government.

The Bangsamoro transition government, which is responsible for laying down the foundation for the new autonomous region, faces many challenges and limitations. It needs to establish a functional government structure, reconcile with different groups, create sustainable development plans, and address historical injustices. These tasks require extensive resources, expertise, and time, which the new government is still building.

In light of these challenges, the regional government should focus on building its capabilities and consolidating its power before engaging in unnecessary confrontations or taking bold actions. It should avoid drawing too much attention, especially from those who seek to undermine its efforts.

For instance, the government can prioritize building its administrative capacity, such as improving public services and building a professional civil service. It can also engage in dialogue and consultation with different stakeholders, creating trust and understanding.

While applying Deng Xiaoping's “tao guang yang hui” principle, the Bangsamoro transition government should also be careful not to compromise its core beliefs and values. It should remain committed to the Bangsamoro people's aspirations for self-determination and justice. The government should also ensure that its actions and policies reflect the principles of transparency, accountability, and inclusivity.

I wonder how this period of transition will be if Chairman Jaafar is still alive. But I am sure he will still use Deng Xiaoping's “tao guang yang hui” principle because it can serve as a valuable guide for the Bangsamoro transition government as it navigates its way in this challenging and complex environment.