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By Prince Golez

President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday urged the Bangsamoro Transition Authority to ensure the protection of the best interests of Filipinos in the new autonomous region.

Duterte made the statement after administering the oath-taking of the 80 members of the BTA in Malacanang.

The body will serve as the de facto government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) until its first regular elections in 2022.

“As you lead this new region towards a brighter tomorrow, I ask you never to waver in your commitment to build an institution that is founded on the rule of law, the promotion of good governance, and the defense of our most cherished democratic values,” said the President.

“Always work for the best interest and welfare, not only of the Bangsamoro people, but every Filipino who live in that region. I trust that you will oversee the transition period to the best of your abilities, especially in the decommissioning of firearms and former combatants,” he added.

In his speech, Duterte also said the successful ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law will create an environment of peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians.

“The road to peace may be long and rough, but I am glad that we have finally reached its endpoint. My only hope is that we put to rest the bitter memories of the past so that we can build a new region that is bound, not by ethnic or religious affiliation, but by a common aspiration for peaceful coexistence among our fellow Filipinos,” the chief executive said.

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