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President Duterte wants Secretary Piñol as national gov’t-BARMM intermediary

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is eyeing the transfer of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol to the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) to coordinate efforts between the national government and the newly formed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

In an interview in Malacañang on Thursday, the President said he needed someone who knows Mindanao well, especially after the creation of BARMM, to help him handle the region.

“I cannot see anybody in the horizon except Piñol who knows and grew up…was born in Mindanao and grew up there. He is a farmer, then a governor,” the President said.

“So, sabi ko kailangan ko ng timon. And that Mindanao [Development] Authority position is a Cabinet position. Sabi ko, ‘pumunta ka na lang doon, tulungan mo na lang ako.’ Get them started…hurry up, hurry them up so that they would have the first regular organized government that they have long wished for.”

Piñol was reported to have offered his resignation but the President said he has yet to accept it, adding he needed to talk to BARMM Interim Chief Minister Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim. Piñol expressed openness to lead MinDA.

The chief executive expressed reservations over the lack of progress in BARMM even after a transition body was organized.

He wants an effective and well-functioning government, which he said, would be necessary to exploit the region’s resources, particularly Liguasan Marsh, believed to be containing large reserves of natural gas.

“There seems to be disconnect dito sa akin…pati sa kanila. So, I was looking for Murad, eh wala doon. Sabi ko, ‘hurry up. Set up the government that you have long wanted,’” he said.

The region is all for the Muslims to exploit and the national government may ask a minimal contribution in form of taxation, the President added.