KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim on Saturday said the MILF has no problem with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chairman Nur Misuari being part of the peace talks with the Philippine government.
Murad made the statement during the start of the two-day meeting between the MILF and the Philippine government in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to discuss the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
Murad noted that the inclusion of Misuari in the peace talks is part of the process of converging two peace agreements, especially as the MILF and the MNLF have a similar goal. “That is self-governance for the Bangsamoro,” Murad said.
The Duterte administration’s roadmap to peace emphasizes the convergence of the MILF’s CAB and the MNLF’s Final Peace Agreement signed in 1996 during the Ramos administration.
The administration committed to implement all signed agreements, including the CAB, signed in March 2014 during the Aquino administration.
However, the CAB’s implementation through the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was stalled due to the 2015 Mamasapano encounter which led Congress not to pass the BBL.
Forty-four police officers from the elite Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police died after an 11-hour firefight with members of the MILF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in January 2015.
Both the MNLF and the MILF trace their roots to the Mindanao Independence Movement founded in 1968. The MILF broke away from the MNLF in the 1970s.
In the two-day meeting in Malaysia, those who represented the Philippine government in the meeting were Presidential Peace Adviser on the Peace Process Sec. Jesus Dureza headed the government representatives which included National Security Adviser (Ret.) General Hermogenes Esperon, Foreign Affairs Sec. Perfecto Yasay, Jr., and Interior Sec. Mike Sueno.
Also in attendance were House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas.
“The President’s (Duterte) very strong position was for inclusivity,” Dureza said.
Representatives from the Philippine government, the MILF, and the MNLF will be working together in a new Bangsamoro Transition Commission that will draft a Bangsamoro enabling law to replace the doomed BBL.
However, Murad explained that the working document will be the BBL with enhancements from other groups.
There is no timeline yet as to when the new enabling bill will be filed in Congress, according to Dureza.
The bill will abolish the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao(ARMM) to make way for Bangsamoro government unit which could serve as template for a federal state.
Annexes in the CAB already include wealth sharing and power sharing agreements with an envisioned Bangsamoro unit with the national government but Dureza said the final proposal will still have to be ironed out. — VVP, GMA News