Abu, BIFF recruit young men in Basilan — mayor PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 25 September 2014 14:43

A town mayor in Basilan province, an Abu Sayyaf stronghold, said on Tuesday that the militant group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF), a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), have intensified their recruitment of young Muslims in the island province with promises of monetary incentive and firearms.

In an interview with Basilan-based DXNO radio station, Mayor Joel Maturan of Ungkaya Pukan, said recruitment by the militant group and the BIFF of young Muslims is “rampant” in his place.

Maturan said young Muslims are told if they will join the Abu Sayyaf and BIFF, they will be given “dory”, a financial gift to a woman they will marry, they will get high powered firearms and their families will receive P50,000.

“They are (Abu Sayyaf and BIFF) actively recruiting young men here,’ he said in the interview with DXNO station manager Richard Falcatan.

Maturan said he was told by his men that the Abu Sayyaf and BIFF have been telling young men of their link with the Islamic State in the Middle East.

Abu Sayyaf and BIFF both have recently declared support to the IS.

Meanwhile, government peace negotiators told Philippine senators on Tuesday that the proposed Bangsamoro Law will be a shield against radicalism,

In his statement during a Senate hearing, Bangsamoro Transition Commission chair Mohagher Iqbal, who is also the chief negotiator of the  Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), told senators that the eventual enactment of the Bangsamoro Law will bring at least four major changes in Mindanao.

The BBL is expected to “end the long-standing suffering of the Bangsamoro people; foster unity and harmony; bring in economic development; and shield against rising radicalism” in the south, he said.

“The Bangsamoro is our best insurance against independence. If the Bangsamoro works to bring peace, development and security to the people, then independence becomes less attractive. People will only leave a relationship when they are treated badly. But if they are treated well, there will be no reason to aspire to be independent,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal, who said that he has spent his life’s “best years” fighting for the Bangsamoro’s interests, said the armed rebellion in Mindanao should be put to an end by giving back the political rights of the Bangsamoro people to govern their own ancestral lands in Mindanao—the main purpose of the BBL.

He said the passage of the bill will “grant” the right of the people to “live a happy and meaningful life.”

“Life is meant to be lived in freedom and in pursuit of meaning and significance. Instead, the conflict has caused our people to live in fear and in want. Today, we have a singular opportunity to end suffering, poverty, illiteracy, impunity and lawlessness. Let us work hard to make this happen. Let peace be our lasting legacy,” he said.

The Philippine Senate under the Committee on Local Government chaired by Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. began the public hearing on the BBL – the legal document that will operationalize the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which the government and the MILF signed last March 27.

On the other hand, presidential peace adviser Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles described that Bangsamoo Law as an “important pillar” and “insurance against independence,” as she and other government negotiators explained to senators the genuine intentions of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

“I think the importance of this bill and the law to be passed in this government as an important pillar of the agenda has been made clear over and over again,” Deles said in her opening statement.

The CAB is the product of both parties’ 17 years commitment in the southern Philippines peace negotiations.

Marcos acknowledged the bill’s importance, saying its success is not only limited to those people in Mindanao but to the entire nation as well.

He said the public hearing on Tuesday is just the start and he intends to carry out more public hearings on the ground in the next few weeks. “This is so important—the measure— that I believe the discussion should not be limited to those of us in the Senate or in the House of Representatives or [those] directly involved in the drafting of this bill. But I think the discussion should go out to the general populace seeing that any result or success we garner here by passing this measure will be of beneficial effect not only to ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), not only to the proposed Bangsamoro, but also all of the Filipino populace.” he said.

The eventual passage of the BBL will give birth to the Bangsamoro region, replacing the current ARMM. The proposed region will be run by a democratic parliamentary-form of government with substantial powers on autonomy.

Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito described the signing of the CAB – a peace agreement – and its draft bill as “breakthroughs” in the southern peace process. Although he admitted that some quarters have expressed skeptical views on the BBL, he urged the public to study and be informed about its content and help the lawmakers craft an all-inclusive law.