MNLF fears marginalization of truce with GPH with Bangsamoro’s creation PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 03 January 2015 14:47

The largest faction in the Moro National Liberation Front (MILF) on Tuesday said it is worried of the possible marginalization of its Sept. 2, 1996 truce with government once the Bangsamoro government is in place.

The creation of the Bangsamoro self-governing mechanism, expected to happen in 2015 via the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), is based on the final peace compact between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, dubbed March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB).

The draft BBL is now in Congress, expected to be enacted into law and ratified via a plebiscite in the proposed Bangsamoro core territory by first quarter of 2015.

Former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema, chairman of the most politically active MNLF faction, said while they are not opposed to the dealings of President Benigno Aquino III with the MILF, they will be badly hurt with their now 18-year peace pact with government getting overtaken and invalidated by the CAB’s implementation.

The 1996 government-MNLF truce was brokered by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of more than 50 Muslim states, including petroleum-exporting nations in the Middle East and North Africa.

“We also want to clarify that this MNLF group is not an enemy of the MILF. We are not at war with the MILF. We can never be at war with the MILF because we have the same peace and development objectives for the Bangsamoro people,” Sema said.

However, Sema said the national government and the MNLF, from where the MILF had splintered from in the early 1980s, should bilaterally protect the 1996 peace accord and preserve its gains.

“The area of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao was, in fact, expanded in 2001 in keeping with the September 2, 1996 GPH-MNLF final peace agreement,” Sema said.

The ARMM originally covered only Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, both in mainland Mindanao, and the island provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The region’s coverage expanded to Basilan and the cities of Lamitan and Marawi following the amendment of its charter,  the Republic Act 6734 to R.A. 9054, via a referendum in 2001.

“One of the tangible results of our peace agreement with the national government is the restoration of normalcy in areas where our forces thrive and the integration of thousands of MNLF fighters into the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police,” Sema said.

The more than 6,000 MNLF members taken in by the Philippine Army have turned in their firearms too as a requisite to their enlistment into the military service.

At least 2,500 combatants of the MNLF have also been absorbed by the PNP and are now assigned in different parts of the country.

Sema said they look up to the impending replacement of ARMM with a new Bangsamoro political entity with “deep sadness” and heavy feeling of despondency.

The passage of the draft BBL will, as a legal consequence, deactivate the ARMM to pave the way for the setting up of an MILF-led Bangsamoro government.

“It’s very saddening because the ARMM’s creation was paid in blood, sweat and tears of the Moro guerillas that fought for Moro land and people during the 1970s until the forging of the GPH-MNLF peace agreement in 1996,” Sema said.

Unlike the MNLF faction led by Nur Misuari, Sema’s group, which has more than a dozen “revolutionary states” scattered across Mindanao, is not hostile to the MILF.

Misuari has accused President Aquino of abrogating the GPH-MNLF peace agreement by forging the CAB with the MILF.

Misuari is now wanted for allegedly instigating the deadly September 2013 siege in Zamboanga City in protest of Malacañang’s peace initiatives with the MILF.