Central Mindanao execs elated with MILF’s optimism on peace talks PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 25 October 2013 11:04

Local executives in North Cotabato and Maguindanao are optimistic the direction the Moro Islamic Liberation Front intends to pursue —strengthening human security through governance — after forging a truce with government will hasten peace and development in the South.

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza and her counterpart in Maguindanao province, Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu had said in separate statements they were elated with announcement by Muhaquer

Iqbal that the MILF wants to evolve into a governing core for a new Bangsamoro political entity without guerilla forces at the backdrop.

Iqbal, chairman of the MILF’s peace panel and concurrent information chief of the rebel group, had announced recently that the MILF will cease to exist as a “revolutionary group” after it forges a final peace deal with government.

Iqbal said their group will focus on governance and in addressing security and economic issues once the Bangsamoro political entity has been established.

“That’s a very positive note and we in the local governments in North Cotabato will stand firm and never waive from supporting a peaceful, negotiated solution to the Mindanao Moro issue, a solution that will be beneficial to all people in Mindanao,” Mendoza said.

Peace talks between the government and MILF started January 7, 1997, but gained headway only in 2003 with the involvement of Malaysia as “third party facilitator.”

More than a dozen other foreign peace advocacy outfits and international donor organizations are also directly assisting in the on-going GPH-MILF talks.

“We in the MILF are optimistic our dream of a peaceful, progressive Bangsamoro homeland will be realized,” Iqbal said.

Mangudadatu, for his part, said his administration, which started in 2010 after his first election as governor of Maguindanao, has also been supportive of the on-going peace talks between the government and the MILF.

“We are aware there can be no other means, other than `peaceful negotiation,’ in addressing the Southern Philippines Moro problem,” Mangudadatu pointed out in his emailed statement, referring to the on-going GPH-MILF peace talks.

“We look forward to the day when all rebel forces gets involved in governance, goes out and cast their votes during elections, and help in running the affairs and in overseeing peace and development projects in their respective communities,” Mangudadatu added.

The MILF’s website, www.luwaran.com, earlier said in one of its recent news posts that the rebel group wants to evolve into a fully operational political party after it signs a final peace accord with government.

Iqbal said they are confident that the Bangsamoro political entity will be in place before the 2016 synchronized local and presidential electoral exercise.

The government and MILF peace panels are now finalizing the last two annexes — on power sharing, and normalization — to be fused with the October 15, 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB).

The FAB is to become the basis for an enabling law that would legitimize the creation of the Bangsamoro region.

The Bangsamoro region will, as a consequence, replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao if approved by Southern Mindanao residents through a plebiscite.

“By then, once in place, there is no more reason for the MILF to continue to exist as a revolutionary front,” Iqbal said.

He said the MILF is grateful to President Aquino and all the foreign and local organizations helping push the peace talks forward.

Mangudadatu, presiding chairman of Maguindanao’s provincial peace and order council, said his office, meantime, will focus on projects that can boost the cordiality of the on-going government-MILF talks.

Mendoza, who has political jurisdiction over 17 towns and over Kidapawan City, said her constituent-mayors, vice mayors,  and municipal councilors, have also been busy with various activities propagating public awareness on the importance of the GPH-MILF talks.

“We have also been actively involving our Moro traditional and religious leaders in these activities to promote unity and cooperation among our Moro and non-Moro sectors,” Mendoza said.