Part 1 of Series 4: A closer look of the UBJP

Political parties play an essential role in democratic governance by offering various platforms, representing diverse interests, and allowing citizens to participate in the political process. In the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), political parties can foster competition, encourage accountability, and provide a means for different voices and perspectives to be heard and represented.

Ideally, the establishment of political parties within the BARMM helps institutionalize the democratic process and ensures that decisions are made through an inclusive and participatory manner. It allows different political ideologies and ideas to be debated and debated upon, fostering a healthy and robust political environment.

However, it is important to note that the presence of political parties does not guarantee a flawless democratic system. Challenges and issues such as patronage politics, factionalism, and lack of party discipline can still be observed within any political system, including in the BARMM. Nonetheless, the existence of genuine political parties is a crucial step towards a vibrant and accountable democratic governance in the region.

Thus, a political party functions as a cohesive unit aiming to promote a shared ideology and work towards common goals. However, disunity within a party can hinder its effectiveness and compromise its ability to serve its constituents. 

Last August 3, 2023, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) issued a statement saying that they will not endorse or nominate any of their members for the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) local elections (BSKLE) on October 30, 2023. They further stated that while they cannot prevent their members from participating, they have chosen to remain non-partisan and will NOT OPENLY support them. This decision was announced by Sammy Gambar Macacua, secretary-general of the party, during a stakeholders' summit for unity and peace attended by local government officials, security sectors, and the Commission on Elections. This statement encourages DISUNITY within the ranks of UBJP. It simply shows that its members hold conflicting political beliefs or priorities, leading to divisions on matters that are crucial in the said political exercise.

According to political analysts in the BARMM, the UBJP is composed of four different factions. The first faction consists of hardcore MILF ideologues who have never held public office before the Transition Period or won any political positions in the government. The second faction includes MILF sympathizers, relatives, and friends who are already local politicians. The third faction involves civil society organizations (CSOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that actively supported the campaign for the Bangsamoro peace process. Lastly, there is a group of traditional politicians who recently joined the UBJP for political convenience. As a result, these factions often face disagreements, power struggles, and lack of trust among party leaders, leading to disunity, infighting, public disagreements, and factionalism within the party.

Ultimately, these factions led conflicting policies or displayed inconsistent positions on key issues in the Bangsamoro Parliament. This resulted in mixed messaging, policy flip-flops, and confusion among party members and voters.

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The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Lobbyist.



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