MILF’s ‘guarded optimism’ on May 13 polls PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 08 May 2013 11:07

The outcome of the May 13 elections can affect the efforts of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a more politically and administratively empowered Bangsamoro entity, MILF chieftain Al-Haj Murad said.

Murad on Monday told reporters at Camp Darapanan in Maguindanao’s Sultan Kudarat town that his conviction is premised on the need for more congressional representatives and senators that can support the enactment of the Basic Bangsamoro Law (BBL) to enable the ARMM’s replacement with a new MILF-led political entity.

“Very important ang suporta ng Congress at Senate sa peace process,” Murad said.

The BBL is to be drafted by the 15-member Transition Commission, which is chaired by the rebel group’s chief negotiator, Muhaquer Iqbal. The TransCom is comprised of eight representatives from the MILF and seven from the government.

Murad said he is optimistic on the start of the transition process in 2015, sooner than the 2016 termination of the term of ARMM officials elected on May 13.

Even if there is a need for more legislators that can stand for the BBL, the MILF’s central leadership core will not participate in the May 13 synchronized municipal, provincial, ARMM and senatorial elections, according to Murad.

“No participation,” Murad said, referring to their central committee’s neutral stance on next week’s electoral exercise.

Murad also refuted stories being spread by certain political camps claiming “political support” from the MILF that the rebel group had been deputized by the Commission on Elections to help in the election security duties of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police.

“There is no truth to that. There is an MOU (memorandum of understanding) between the government and the MILF to cooperate with each other in ensuring a peaceful conduct of the elections, but there is no such thing as the MILF being deputized for election security duties,” Murad pointed out.

He said the MOU, signed in Davao City last April 22 by Army Brig. Gen. Cesar Dionisio Sedillo and Said Sheik Al-Haj, of the government and MILF’s ceasefire committees, respectively, clearly restrains Moro guerrillas from getting close to polling precincts on May 13 with their uniforms and guns.

The MOU was also signed, as witness, by Malaysian Major Gen. Fadzil Mokhtar of the International Monitoring Team (IMT), which is comprised of soldiers and policemen from Malaysia, Brunei, Libya and Indonesia, and non-uniformed conflict resolution experts from Japan, Norway and the European Union.

Murad also denied assertions that the MILF has anointed favored candidates for different elective positions in Maguindanao, a known bastion of the MILF and home-province of the group’s founder, the late Egyptian-trained cleric Salamat Hashim.

Murad said while they are optimistic of a fruitful outcome of the GPH-MILF talks, particularly the completion of all the annexes in the October 15, 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB), they believe creation of a Bangsamoro entity will be put to yet another test once the BBL gets to Congress and the Senate.

He said their guidance to MILF members that are to exercise their right of suffrage on May 13 is to choose only candidates they believe can stand for the peace talks and help resolve peacefully the decades-old Moro issue in Southern Philippines.