Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Talk

By Catherine J. Torres

Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Amb. Abul Khayr Alonto lauded development of the framework agreement between the Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), believing this will truly pave the way for peace and progress in Muslim Mindanao.

“We’re supporting the agreement – that’s the official stand of MNLF and its original leaders,” he said on the side of Saturday Forum Annabel’s in Quezon City.

He gave such assurance after reports cited MNLF leader Nur Misuari as slamming the agreement allegedly for being illegal.

Misuari also reportedly raised fears the agreement won’t address problems in Muslim Mindanao and will instead even trigger more conflict there.

He already threatened to charge the Philippine government before International Court of Justice for the agreement that’s due for signing next week, reports continued.

Under the agreement, an autonomous political entity called the Bangsamoro will be established to replace poverty-stricken Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“This can pave the way for federalism in the Philippines – Bangsamoro can be the laboratory of how federalism can work in the country,” Alonto said.

Malacanang said the agreement also involves abandonment of MILF’s goal to establish a separate State.

The agreement likewise involves MILF’s commitment to eventually render its armed forces beyond use, Malacanang continued.

Government peace panel head Dean Marvic Leonen described the agreement as a “product of serious and passionate negotiations” between parties concerned.

Alonto said the agreement will be reviewed for compliance with the Tripoli agreement which the Philippine government and MNLF signed in 1976.

“I believe it is,” he said.

Brushing aside Misuari’s threat, Alonto said MNLF is thankful to the Philippine government for striving to bring forth peace and progress in Muslim Mindanao.

“We’re not concerned about Misuari anymore – I’m sorry for him as he already missed the boat,” Alonto said.

Neither is MNLF fazed by opposition other parties may raise against the agreement, Alonto continued.

“We’re not concerned about any spoilers and won’t allow room for them,” he said.

Alonto said MNLF leaders will continue spearheading discussions on the agreement so more Muslim Filipinos can understand what this is all about.

“Let’s talk about it and not be spoilers,” he said.

He believes the discussions will help encourage Filipino Muslims to rally behind the agreement.

“I’m very much confident all well-intentioned Muslims will support it,” he said.

Alonto acknowledged Misuari is still capable of waging armed combat.

He cautioned Misuari against doing so, however.

“I need to remind him if there’s violence, the armed forces will strike back and civilians will be the collateral damage,” Alonto noted.

Misuari is also duty-bound to respect the 1996 final peace agreement between the Philippine government and MNLF, he continued.

Such agreement ended MNLF’s rebellion against government.

Malacanang assured the framework agreement won’t commit government to undertaking constitutional changes.

The agreement was done in full transparency and doesn’t mention ancestral domain (AD), Malacanang also said.

Such framework agreement likewise provides for crafting of an organic law that’ll be subjected to a plebiscite for approval of people in the Bangsamoro area, Malacanang noted.

“Everything will be reverted to people concerned for their decision,” Alonto said.

Earlier, the Mindanao peace talks led to drafting of the Memorandum of Agreement-AD Bangsamoro Juridical Entity.

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