BTA chief Murad agrees to Piñol’s assignment as Bangsamoro region ‘pointman’ – Duterte

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 11)— The head of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) has accepted the assignment of former Agriculture Chief Manny Piñol as “pointman” for the Bangsamoro region, President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday.

Duterte said officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) had no qualms when he transferred and appointed Piñol as the new chief of the Mindanao Development Authority.

“We're trying to fine tune. The truth of the matter is I really transferred Piñol to assist them,” Duterte said in a chance interview with reporters during the Asian Development Bank loan signing ceremony for the Malolos-Clark Railway Project.

Citing Piñol’s background, the President said he wants him to be his point person to coordinate with BTA Interim Chief Minister Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim and other leaders of the transition government.

“I'm sure he can help the BARMM and the government to fast-track everything. I am most interested na makita na ng Moro people 'yung hinihingi nila (to see the Moro people achieve what they have been asking for),” Duterte said.

Malacañang on Tuesday called on the Budget Department to expedite the release of funds for the newly-established autonomous region, acknowledging that budget constraints have hampered the transition efforts in the BARMM. This is in response to an earlier statement from BTA member Zafrullah Dipatuan that they cannot fully operate because the Budget Department has yet to release a ₱1.5-billion transition fund.

The Bangsamoro covers areas in the previous Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces, except Isabela City in Basilan), with the addition of Cotabato City and 63 North Cotabato barangays (villages) whose residents approved their inclusion in the new region during the plebiscite.

CNN Philippines’ Ina Andolong contributed to this report.