Moro, Christian leaders from around former MILF bastion attend FAB forum PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 27 December 2012 15:09

More than 2,000 barangay leaders and representatives of different civil society organizations (CSOs) graced Sunday’s public forum on the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) in Parang town in Maguindanao, a huge cross-section display of support to the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The forum, attended by a member of the government’s peace panel, Mayor Ramon Piang of Upi, Maguindanao and Ustadz Rabbie Anggal of the MILF, was jointly organized by the provincial government, local officials of Parang and the Iranun Development Council, or IDC, a  socio-economic planning body comprising the
municipal governments of Iranun-dominated towns in the first district of the province.

Piang, who explained the contents of the FAB and its ramifications to forum participants, clarified that there were no serious misunderstandings between the GPH and MILF panels that both sides failed to hold a traditional closing rite for the December 13-15 formal talks in Malaysia and issue a joint communiqué on the outcome of the three-day negotiations.

“Personally, If I am asked to say something about it, there was only a disagreement on `language’ that was to be used for a certain issue that both sides tried to iron out. Negotiations are like that. There is no truth to speculations that the talks might again collapse. The negotiations remain very cordial, in good pitch, full of hope,” he said.

Piang, the mayor of Parang, Ibrahim Ibay, Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, and the acting governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Mujiv Hataman, took turns calling on people present in the forum, mostly Iranun Muslims, and dozens of Christian barangay leaders and local Non-Muslim CSOs, to support the FAB and the newly-created Transition Commission tasked to oversee the crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will pave the way for the ARMM’s replacement with a new autonomous political entity.

The TransCom, which President Benigno Aquino III established last week through Executive Order 120, shall be comprised of 15 members, eight of them from the MILF.

Hataman said he is optimistic Moro sectors in the autonomous region will be amply represented in the TransCom.

“We have waited for so long for the government and the MILF to achieve major breakthroughs in the peace talks. Now these breakthroughs are here, let’s maintain the momentum. Support the peace process,” Hataman said.

Mayors of IDC-member municipalities, including Ibay, also assured Mangudadatu and Hataman they support the FAB and the TransCcom.

It was the IDC, created after the fall in 2000 of the MILF’s bastion, Camp Abubakar, that introduced various community interventions that hastened the recovery of the Muslim communities in the surroundings of the 22,000-hectare guerilla enclave from the devastations wrought by the all out war policy against the MILF by then President Joseph Ejercito Estrada.

The IDC is chaired by Ibay, also an ethnic Iranun, who had served as member of the ARMM’s Regional Legislative Assembly for nine years, or three consecutive terms prior to his election as mayor of Parang.

Mangudadatu after the forum, turned over two brand new farm tractors to the IDC, which his office procured, for the council’s agricultural thrusts around the former Camp Abubakar, now Camp Iranun, the headquarters of the Army’s 603rd Brigade, whose officers also attended the consultation, held at the Parang municipal gymnasium.

Mangudadatu said the tractors will improve the productivity of ethnic Iranun farmers, mostly members of the MILF, in the areas being served by the IDC.

Mangudadatu said the inter-agency provincial peace and order council, which he chairs, will also have is turn of showing all out support to both the FAB and the TransCom through a region-wide public dialogue on January 12-13 in Buluan town in the second district of Maguindanao.

“We have invited the leaders of the MILF, the business and religious communities to that forum we are now organizing,” Mangudadatu said during Sunday’s FAB public dialogue.

He said they will even invite to the grand FAB consultation in Buluan prominent leaders of the Catholic and other Christian sects, among them Archbishop Orlando Quevedo and Msgr. Jose Collin Bagaforo, the archbishop and auxiliary bishops of Cotabato, respectively, who are both active in various projects complementing the Mindanao peace process.