Bangsamoro still doubts Piñol’s sincerity

By Masiding Noor Yahya
July 17, 2019

MARAWI CITY: While Muslim leaders have accepted the decision of President Rodrigo R. Duterte in putting Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol as his pointman in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), he still remains unpopular among the Bangsamoro people.

No less than Ahod “Alhaj Murad” Ebrahim, BARMM’s interim chief minister had said in a televised interview recently that Piñol remains to be “very unpopular among the Bangsamoro people,” even with his efforts to help the region.

“Despite Piñol expressing support to the Bangsamoro region even when he was still agriculture secretary, he is still not okay for some other people,” Ebrahim said.
To hasten region’s development
Duterte had observed that the BARMM is slow and said he wanted to see a hastened pace in regional development. “Hence the need to have a “point person” from the national government to oversee the BARMM,” the President said.
“We are trying to fine-tune. That is why the truth of the matter is I really transferred Piñol to assist them. This is not husbandry. It’s there already,” Duterte told reporters at Malacañang last week.
The president emphasized that Piñol’s role would focus on overseeing the development in the region to speed up progress there since he feels it has not jumpstarted yet despite the creation of the new independent entity.
He said he did not have a point man who was born and raised in Mindanao.
“I’m sure he can help the BARMM and the government to fast track everything,” Duterte added.
BARMM success depends upon the pointman
Haroun Alrashid Alonto Lucman, Jr., former regional vice governor of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said if there are differing views from the Bangsamoro people about Piñol as PRRD’s pointman in the region, it is because a pointman is very critical to the success or failure of BARMM.”
Lucman said that they had seen how political dynamics were being played out in the defunct autonomous region, and, “clearly, Malacanang’s support spells the difference.”
“In my times with the previous ARMM, former Local Governments secretaries Puno and Robredo were tasked by former Presidents Gloria Arroyo and Noynoy Aquino, respectively, to exercise supervision over ARMM under the president’s power of supervision over LGUs,” he said.
He believed it is very important that the pointman has strong bond with the president, based on respect, trust and confidence just as Puno and Robredo had shown during their times, so that issues and concerns in the region are relayed to the president with dispatch.
“If Secretary Piñol was merely pushed to this job to clear space in the Department of Agriculture, this does not sound like the kind of trust and confidence BARMM needs to enable the pointman to make representations to Malacanang for the region’s behalf,” Lucman stressed.
“Besides, many think, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez was doing the job all along. He did a splendid job working out the transfer of power from ARMM to BARMM, and he enjoys immense respect among the leaders of the region, in contrast to Sec. Piñol,” he pointed out.
Lucman recalled the incident in Butig, Lanao del Sur when Piñol visited the area few years ago. “A very simple incident involving two municipal councilors and his (Piñol’s) staff was blown out of proportion because of his brazen statements in the media. “That did not sit well with the people of Lanao,” he added.
According to Drieza Abato Lininding, leader of the Bangsamoro Consensus Group, due to that Butig incident, Secretary Piñol suspended government’s assistance in the amount of P60-Million to the victims of the war in Butig between the military and the ISIS.
“Instead of investigating the incident and file a case against the culprits, Piñol tried the two councilors by publicity through the social media,” according to Lininding.
There were also numerous media statements by Piñol at the height of the Mindanao conflict (70s, 80s, and 90s) which gave an indelible impression to BARMM constituents on the secretary’s eye views on the Moro struggle, said Lucman.
Respect the President’s decision
“But, then, the president has the final say on who to designate as BARMM pointman. If it should be Secretary Piñol, we have to respect that. The good secretary has a job to do for us and he can start by building trust and confidence on our people. Afterall, he is from Mindanao and he knows what we need,” Lucman added.
Atty. Bayan G. Balt, president of Maranao State Federal Movement, said the reported unpopularity of Piñol among the Bangsamoro was not enough to deny him his right to serve the BARMM. “He has the same rights and privileges with the rest of the Bangsamoro,” he added.
“After all, he is the personal choice of Pres. Duterte as his pointman in the BARMM, and who knows, his expertise in good governance as a former cabinet secretary and provincial governor will benefit the constituents of BARMM,” Balt said, adding, “Let us support him.”
Doubts on Piñol sincerity
Marawi Sultan Hamidullah Atar said the Moro People has doubts on the sincerity of Piñol as the President’s focal person in the BARMM.
Atar said Piñol, a known Moro antagonist before, has not yet shown sincerity to help the Moro people. Pinol was among principal Christian figures who sought the Supreme Court to declare the MOA-AD unconstitutional.
Besides, Atar said, Pinol and other Christian elites in Mindanao has a wide plantation and land thatt they need to protect. Pinol’s designation as alter ego of the president is for the bigger interest of the Christian settlers in Mindanao and not for the Bangsamoro.
Academician Esmail Disoma said one who has been known for something especially when Moro problem is concerned must not be given chance. Disoma was referring to Piñol whose role contributed to the junking of the MOA-AD in 2008.
Disoma said this is the last chance of the Moro. “When failure comes we cannot say it is because of Piñol. The Filipinos will blame us again for the failure.”
He added, “Duterte is blaming the BARMM for being too slow, but he does not look at the failure of the government’s role of providing fund.” He said the present problem of fund was the same problem met by Misuari. (MNY)

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