MILF political office in Cawit is illegal- IMT PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 18 January 2014 13:41

Pending the comprehensive peace agreement between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), any movement on the ground let alone in Zamboanga City by any MILF group is illegal and therefore should not be pursued.

This was the stern warning of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) leader, Malaysian Col. Zolkipli Hashim, to the MILF group that wanted to establish an MILF Bangasamoro Political Office in Barangay Cawit even as he instructed the group to dismantle whatever structure it had erected on a piece of land in Barangay Cawit so as not affect, preempt or derail the ongoing GPH-MILF peace process.

Col. Hashim made the statement during a dialogue yesterday morning in Cawit between the MILF group headed by a certain Jusali  Musali, mayor of the Bangsamoro, and the Barangay Council of Cawit headed by Chairman Rey Modillas.

The IMT mediated the dialogue in the presence of Mayor Beng Climaco, Vice Mayor Cesar Iturralde and some members of the City Council together with City Legal Officer Jesus Carbon.

It was learned that Musali’s group had constructed a structure on a piece of land in Cawit, owned by Alex Doris, purposely for the establishment of so-called MILF Bangsamoro Political Office and a cooperative upon instruction by a certain Bob of the MILF Central Committee.

However, Modillas protested and brought the issue to the IMT based at the Western Mindanao Command, claiming that Musali’s group did not coordinate with his office prior to the construction of the structure, thus causing apprehension among residents of Cawit.

Mayor Climaco likewise flatly denied having been consulted on the matter by the MILF group, except that she was informed about it by Modillas himself.

Climaco reiterated that the people Zamboanga City in two plebiscites do not want to be part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or the Bangsamoro homeland or any territory that will be claimed by the MILF or Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

It was found out during the dialogue that Muksali’s move was not legally authorized by the MILF Central Committee as he admitted to the IMT that there was no written instruction from the MILF higher-up for him to put up the Bangsamoro Political Office in Cawit or in any part of the city.

He claimed that what was constructed though was a small hut (kubo) but with the same intention, citing a provision in the framework agreement that a Muslim-dominated area in Minadanao may opt to join the Bangsamoro.

To this, Maj. Abdurasad Sirai, head of the Mindanao Secretariat for the GPH panel, cautioned Musali and his group the framework agreement cannot be made as basis for any movement on the ground by the MILF. There has yet to be a final agreement.

He warned that Musali’s move may even cause a problem if he pursues it. “Just wait for the final agreement. It’s almost there. Don’t do anything that might affect the ongoing peace talks.”

“Zamboanga City is not part of the Bangsamoro and it is non-negotiable,” he stressed. — Vic Larato