MILF chief asks front members to keep faith with peace process PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 20 February 2016 11:37

Amid the “deep disappointment and grave dismay” of the members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the  “the tangible frustration  of the great majority of the Bangsamoropeople” over failure of Congress to enact into law the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) bill, the front’s chairman Al  Haj MuradEbrahim has asked his followers and other Moro stakeholders to not “be swayed by elements unreasonably instigating for radicalism.”

Murad issued the appeal on behalf of the MILF central committee in the wake of a resurgence of bombings and skirmishes by the renegade rebel group of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in recent days mostly in central Mindanao provinces. The BIFF elements broke away from the MILF because of the faction’s opposition to the latter’s peace agreement  with the government involving the establishment of a new autonomous regional government for Mindanao’s Muslims.

“Wecall upon all our Bangsamoro brethren and all peace loving people to join hands,consolidateand vigorouslyrally behind the cause to pursue wit hpersistence the passage of the BBL and the  fullimplementation ofthe CAB, be it in the present government or the upcoming administration”, Murad said in the statement issued yesterday (February 18). CAB is the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the general accord entered into be the government with the MILF in 2014.  It served as the terms of reference in the drafting of the BBL by the   Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). It was the BTC that in September 2015 submitted the BBL to Congress for enactment into a law which would create a politically stronger regional autonomous government. But Congress failed to approve the BBL by the end of its final busin ess plenary session on February 9.

Immediately afterwards, the GPH and MILF peace negotiating panels met on February 11-12 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to re-affirm the parties’ commitment to the  Bangsamoro peace process, renew the ceasefire minotirng groups’ mandates, and discuss the implementation of CAB’s  components not covered by the BBL such the socio-economic  rehabilitation of demobilized MILF fighters and communities and implementation of the recommendations of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC).  They also agreed to take steps to strengthen grassroots and political support for the BBL to hasten its passage by the next Congress.

“Inspite of the non-passage of the BBL,” Murad said, “the MILF wil lcontinue to uphold the peace process and ensure that all the gains will be preserved.    Towards this end, MILFwill endeavor to sustain the relevant infrastructure of the peace process and our military forces will,at all times,maintain its defensive posture.It will remain as a revolutionary organization until it officially joins the government in accordance with the agreed roadmap in the implementation process of the CAB.”

During the final Tripartite Review Process (TRP) meeting last month in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) also agreed to enter into a tactical collaboration with the MILF in the implementation of CAB.  The TRP has been an eight-year long evaluation by government, MNLF and the Organization of Islamic Cooepration (OIC) of the implementation status of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA). Disagreements related to the TRP and initial opposition by the MNLF of the CAB led to the Zamboanga siege in 2013.

“All officers,commanders and members of the MILF Political Wing and the Bangsamoro Islamic ArmedForces (BIAF)are enjoined to strictly follow and abide by the instructions and guidelines of the MILFCentral Committee (and) to uphold the primacy of the peace process while maintaining their vigilance and perseverance”, Murad said in the statement. — Rey-Luis Banagudos