The BTA: A rejoinder (1)


September 6, 2022

Dear Editor,

This is in response to Macabangkit Lanto’s Southern Voice column entitled “More questions on BTA appointment” which was published in the August 29, 2022 issue of your paper. As requested by Mr. Lanto, we would like to respond to the issues he raised in his piece.

The inauguration of the newly appointed members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority was a shining moment in the Bangsamoro peace process. Unfortunately, Mr. Lanto doesn’t share this positive view, as he notes in his column that “Some people cannot just move on from disappointment.” He goes on to say that “some core democratic tenets are deteriorating fast in the governance of the nascent autonomous government” and “needs revisiting.” He even described the BTA as a “pyrrhic victory for the liberation fronts.”

We are not quite sure who are the “some people” Mr. Lanto is referring to. Are they former BTA members who were not re-appointed? Are they individuals who applied for membership with the body but did not make the cut? Are they personalities whose recommendees to the BTA were not favorably considered? As Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. has explained, all the 80 newly-appointed members of the BTA are men and women of integrity, credibility, and vast experience. Their applications underwent a stringent and objective selection process based on the following criteria: service, qualification, and performance; contributions to the Bangsamoro peace process; geographical and sectoral representation; and acceptability and credibility to other stakeholders.

But what we find most disconcerting is how Mr. Lanto, who himself is a Bangsamoro, views the BTA. Calling the body a “pyrrhic victory” for the Moro fronts does not only denigrate but trivializes their decades-long armed struggle for self-determination. The BTA is, by and large, a symbol of the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of the Bangsamoro people. Although it is currently being led by former revolutionaries, the body has demonstrated, time and again, its capacity to carry out its crucial mandate, and that is, to ensure the effective implementation of policies, programs and projects that aim to uplift the lives of its people. And despite the pressing issues and concerns the body has faced since its creation, it has proven its capacity to provide inclusive, responsive and people-centered governance.

Thus, Mr. Lanto’s assertion that the appointees to the BTA is based on mere “pedigree” is a sweeping and unfounded statement. While it is true that some of the appointees are the sons and daughters of top Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front, they were primarily chosen because of what is contained in the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the landmark legislation that gives flesh to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. The BOL states that the MILF “will lead the BTA, without prejudice to the participation of the MNLF.” And what we are seeing now is a “united” BTA, wherein its membership, composed of representatives from the two major Moro revolutionary groups have agreed to set aside their political differences and work together for the welfare of the Bangsamoro. During a recent meeting in Davao City between MNLF members who were appointed to the BTA, the children of MNLF Founding chairman Nur Misuari and MNLF chairman Yusoph Jikiri embraced each other, a clear sign that the wounds of the past had been healed. With the coming together of these two MNLF groups, they have finally put an end to the years of animosity that kept them apart and are now in a position to provide unified leadership to the organization. They are the next generation of Moro leaders who are expected to give the Bangsamoro peace process a major boost.

Head, Communications and Public Affairs Services Office of the Presidential Adviser
on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity

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