Confluence of events PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 01 May 2015 14:58

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

Los Angeles, CA. — Congressman Celso L. Lobregat was correct — include the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in the Mindanao peace process. Why the government so adamantly refuses to involve the MNLF in the peace process or in the discussions over the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is a complete puzzle. Wasn’t the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) a constitutional creation because of the MNLF and Nur Misuari’s bangsamoros? When Corazon C. Aquino was president she commissioned her brother-in-law, Butz Aquino, and Secretary of Interior Nene Pimentel to convince Misuari to accept a peace deal that will appease (so she thought) the uneasy Muslims. That peace offering meant the passage of Republic Act 6734 pursuant to the 1987 Constitution providing the creation of the ARMM that would have put an end to the hostilities in Mindanao. Four provinces from its original document voted to join the ARMM — Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

In 1996, President Fidel V. Ramos, Mrs. Aquino’s heir-apparent, signed a peace agreement with Misuari which was known as the “Final Peace Agreement”. The powerful and influential Organization of Islamic Conference (Countries) has recognized Misuari’s MNLF as the Muslims’ representative organization. But the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the breakaway faction, refused to honor the peace accord and continued its fight for self-rule or Muslim statehood (sounds familiar?). To keep the MILF hierarchy silent, Pres. Ramos allowed the armed group to keep certain “territories” in Maguindanao, including the setting up of ts main headquarters, Camp Abubakar.

So, what happens now to the final peace agreement forged by the Ramos administration and the MNLF? Ladies and gentlemen, Region 9 and its people are confronted not with the ruthlessness of the MILF but the barbarism of the MNLF as so violently demonstrated in two occasions: the Cabatangan Siege and the Zamboanga Siege, that regressed Zamboanga’s economic time-line. Yes, as did Congressman Lobregat, Pres. Ramos has pushed for the inclusion of the MNLF in the peace process. They both know what havoc, like a wounded lion, the MNLF can bring. The MNLF is recognized by the OIC, no matter that Misuari has a standing warrant of arrest.

Sometime in March 2000, months before he was betrayed by his friends and allies, Pres. Joseph Estrada launched an all-out war against the MILF by ordering the attack on Camp Abubakar. But that didn’t stop the MILF from employing a guerrilla-type warfare against the government. Estrada couldn’t bury the enemy and their guns because he was ousted from office.

Mediated by Malaysia, Indonesia and some Arab countries, notably Libya, Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed a ceasefire agreement with the MILF. The war that Estrada started accordingly cost the lives of 70,000 and displaced over one million people. PGMA took even a giant step by forging a secret agreement with the MILF that would apportion a great deal of land to the secessionists. It would expanded the coverage of the ARMM, making it a sub-state to be called the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE).

Fortunately, the wolf ears and cat eyes of politicians got wind of the deal and went to the Supreme Court pleading for the issuance of a temporary restraining order to stop the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) that would have given life to the BJE. That document was eventually declared unconstitutional by the high tribune. PGMA scrapped the document.

Very recently, Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said that he will invite the MNLF leaders,(sans Misuari) to the senate hearings on the BBL to hear out their sentiments (grievances?). Let’s see what gives.