March 29, 2020
CURRENT AFFAIRS

BARMM to Raise Turkey Issue to Peace Process Body

By EDD K. USMAN

Twitter: @edd1819, Instagram: @bluestar0910, Facebook: Science, Digital & Current News

(SDN) — PREDICTABLY, disputes in the exercise of powers of the Manila central government and the Bangsamoro government are bound to flare up.

One potential flashpoint could be the recent visit to Turkey of Interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “Al-Hajj Murad” Ebrahim, head of the newly-minted Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The visit he made on December 13 to 15 and his subsequent meetings with Turkish government officials earned the indignation of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) chief, Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr.

Never mind that the Office of the President had issued the travel authority of Ebrahim, concurrent head of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Locsin made his outburst on Twitter:

“Filing a diplomatic protest against Turkey; studying charges vs Filipino BARMM officials involved. If not repudiated by Ankara NOW I propose breaking diplomatic relations. A slap at Philippine sovereignty and an attack on our territorial integrity and an attack on our territorial unity and integrity. Reek$ of $ellout”

BARMM Spokesman Naguib Sinarimbo said the issue with Locsin falls under the jurisdiction of the IGRB. ‘We will formally bring this issue to the IGRB as the proper forum for issues of this nature.”

BARMM, raise, DFA, issue, IGRB, Turkey, indignation
DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. from his Facebook page.

The IGRB, per MindaNews.com, was tasked “to coordinate and resolve issues on inter-governmental relations through regular consultation and continuing negotiation on a non-adversarial manner.” Issues that cannot be resolved under the ambit of the IGRB are to be raised to the level of President Rodrigo R. Duterte through the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Chief Minister (Ebrahim).

Sinarimbo said unless the IGRB calls for special meetings, the body convenes after every 90 days. The Joint Secretariat of the IGRB are headed by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III (National government) and Minister Mohagher Iqbal (BARMM).

DISPUTES in the exercise of powers of the central government and the Bangsamoro government are better resolved by the IGRB.

Sinarimbo, who also heads the Ministry of Interior and  Local Government (BARMM-MILG), said the issue to be brought to the  IGRB’s attention takes the form of “Dispute in the exercise of powers of the Central Government and Bangsamoro Government.”

Meanwhile, he pointed out that the contribution of Turkey to the Mindanao peace process is substantial.

Of course, Sinarimbo, a lawyer, was referring to the nearly 20 years of peace process between the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). This resulted with the forging of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

BARMM, raise, DFA, issue, Turkey, indignation, IGRB
BARMM Interim Chief Minister Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim from Luwaran.com

Perhaps, not all government officials are aware of Turkey’s contribution to the peace negotiations. Turkey is a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

“Certainly, the good secretary  is better (advised) to understand the peace process and the critical role played by Turkey in our peace process, after all this good relation redounds to the benefit of our country,” Sinarimbo said.

Sinarimbo pointed out that the Muslim country, which nestles astride the continents of Asia and Europe, is a member of the GPH-MILF International Contact Group (ICG), and chairs the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) tasked to decommission the MILF’s 12,000 combatants and their weapons.

He said the Turkish government “played a critical role during the peace negotiations as one of the member states of the International Contact Group…(and) continues to play an important role in the implementation of the peace agreement as chairperson of the Independent Decommissioning Body.”

The BARMM spokesman made the clarification to respond to the Twitter post of the DFA chief, where he threatened to break relations with Turkey.

“I met with Turkish Ambassador Artemiz Sümer to clear up the misunderstanding. We both agreed to continue to coordinate all engagements with BARMM together,” the foreign secretary said.

“Certainly, the good secretary  is better (advised) to understand the peace process and the critical role played by Turkey in our peace process, after all this good relation redounds to the benefit of our country,” Sinarimbo said.

Sinarimbo said under the CAB, signed on March 27, 2014, “issues of this nature maybe raised by either party to the Inter-Governmental Relations Mechanism.”

“The Bangsamoro Organic Law similarly provides for a venue to raise issues of this nature,” Sinarimbo said, adding the venue is the IGRB. He said the IGRB convened for the first time in Davao City on December 16.

“This venue should have been utilized by the good Secretary to raise his issue.”

Sinarimbo emphasized that Ebrahim traveled to Turkey on the invitation Turkish government’s invitation, with the Office of the President issuing his travel order.

BARMM, DFA, IGRB, to raise, peace process, Turkey, MILF
BARMM Spokesperson Naguib Sinarimbo from his Facebook page.

“Further, in all of the meetings between the Chief Minister and representatives of the Government of Turkey, the government of the Philippines was represented by the Consul General.”

Whether the DFA secretary was bluffing about his threat to severe relations with Turkey, it has been mooted.

News reports from GMA7 showed Locsin through from his Twitter account on Friday evening already met with Turkey Ambassador to the Philippines Artemiz Sümer.

“I met with Turkish Ambassador Artemiz Sümer to clear up the misunderstanding. We both agreed to continue to coordinate all engagements with BARMM together,” the foreign secretary said.

“I reaffirmed to my good friend Ambassador Sümer that my affection for Turkey has only increased with the swift resolution of this issue.”

It is not immediately known if and when the BARMM will push through with bringing the issue to the IGRB. (SDN)

 

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