MILF Chair Al Haj Murad: Prospects for Peace in the Country Especially Bangsamoro Appears Bright

posted Feb 23, 2018, 5:33 AM by Human Rights Promotions

From the Website of MILF

MILF Chair Al Haj Murad: Prospects for Peace in the Country Especially Bangsamoro Appears Bright

In his speech delivered in the annual event of the Foreign Correspondents of the Philippines (FOCAP) on the forum, “Prospects for Peace in the Country” held at Pan Pacific Hotel, Manila on February 20, 2018, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said, “The prospect of peace in the country, especially in the Bangsamoro appears bright.”

But, like most seasoned revolutionaries, we welcome the same with guarded optimism given our experience in the past on efforts to implement signed peace agreements in this country, he added.

Al Haj Murad also said that, the President has moved quickly to push for the immediate enactment of the BBL. We have done our part. We have signed a peace agreement; we have steadfast in adhering to the ceasefire agreement; we showed our commitment by undertaking a symbolic decommissioning of 75 weapons that included crew served weapons and 145 of our combatants have been decommissioned; we have just been delisted by the UN from the List of organizations that allegedly employed child soldiers through our relentless pursuit of the UN- MILF Joint Action Plan on Child Soldiers.

To put into proper perspective, Chairman Al Haj Murad outlined the road map outlined in the Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. 

He enumerated the important milestones in the road map to peace such as the signing of the CAB; the Creation of a BTC to draft the BBL; Enactment of the BBL by Congress; Ratification of the law in a Plebiscite in the area of coverage; Appointment of BTA during the transition; and the establishment of the Bangsamoro Government through a regular election. 

He also mentioned that the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed in 2014 was greeted with great euphoria, and the promise of a legislation that will implement fully the content of the peace agreement. We all know what happened in the previous Congress. 

He told the participants that the CAB thru the BBL is the product of 17 long years of negotiation, and we feel that its pursuit through the legislative track is a must. However, we do not see the pursuit of charter change in the country as contrary to the implementation of the peace agreement. 

(Hereunder is the complete texts and form of Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim Speech) 

We view it as complementary. What needs stressing is the need to sequence the two with the enactment of the BBL preceding the shift to Federalism. This is also in compliance with the CAB as the Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities provides for the possibility of amending the Constitution, if needed, so as to comply with the peace agreement.

Also, as a matter of practical consideration, the legislative track is a simpler process and does not require much time as compared to a charter change that both requires longer period and involves a far more complex process. Besides, we may have the opportunity to learn valuable lessons on the broader concept of decentralization and inter-governmental relations in the implementation of the BBL if we proceed with it and apply these lessons in the shift to federalism. On our part, we are of course conscious of the fact that constitutional change, even if it occurs after the enactment of the BBL, would still radically impact the BBL as the change in the Constitution would necessarily change also all national laws, including the BBL, so as to comply with the new charter. It is therefore, important that the shift to federalism also respect and takes into account our peace agreement with the government. What would be ideal is to allow in this charter change the entrenchment of the peace agreement in the constitution as well as the perfection of some of the expression of the right to self-determination of our people which were earlier not accommodated in the existing national legal framework.

Under the current administration, what has radically changed is the appreciation that the implementation of the peace agreement may proceed thru the passage of the Basic Law even if there are reservations for some provisions as requiring a constitutional amendment. What is constitutional or not however, in the final analysis is a matter left to the final determination of the Supreme Court. We are elated by the pronouncements of the living framers of the 1987 Constitution who have repeatedly maintained the view that the present form of the BBL is constitutional. Our hope is that this time around we will be able pass the Basic Law more expeditiously. This will then focus all our energy into nation building rather than dissipating the same in our internal war. 

In the history of our struggle, there has been challenges faced as a result of repeated failures to implement peace agreements. Recall that in 1976, the failure to implement the Tripoli Agreement resulted in the split of the MNLF and the rise of the MILF. The failure to implement the 1996 FPA resulted in the birth of the ASG. In our case, the failure to sign the 2008 MOA AD resulted in the birth of BIFF. Our failure to pass the BBL in 2014 birthed the now infamous Maute Group that ultimately led into the siege of Marawi.

Since 2008. Our organization, the MILF has been under tremendous strain from the challenge of keeping the faith of its ranks in a peace process that appears to have no end in sight. From the failure to sign the MOA AD, the campaign against the leadership of the MILF has been pursued persistently by many extremist in the rebel movement. The common argument that has been used against us by extremist is, “why should we continue to pursue a peace process when government has never implemented a peace agreement that it signed with the Moro”.More often than not, these extremists would cite the failure to implement the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, the controversy over the implementation of the 1996 FPA and governments failure to sign the MOAD in 2008 and of course the failure to pass the BBL in 2015. These legitimate concerns and the failure to address the historical injustice committed against the Bangsamoro people has been exploited by the extremists to recruit young and frustrated men in the homeland. While it is clear to us that the ISIS do not care about our national liberation agenda as they are in pursuit of a globalist jihad everywhere, the frustration and resentment of our young over the apparent failure to implement signed peace agreements is blinding them from discerning the real motives of these extremists.

The fight against violent extremism in the homeland is real. And as the battlefields in the middle east are cleared, and the bases of the ISIS are constricted, we will increasingly find them in our midst as they seek new strategic grounds where government does not hold absolute control over and where legitimate resistance movements exist whose legitimate agenda maybe exploited. Last year alone, in our effort to control a faction of the BIFF that has sworn allegiance to ISIS, we lost a total of 24 men in our drive to defend our communities in the Liguasan marsh. We know we cannot decisively win the war against extremism if we cannot win the peace in the halls of Congress. The peace agreement must be implemented and the BBL must be passed so that we can then show a concrete and demonstrable result of the peace process that we have engaged in in the last 18 years of our struggle.

We stand at a crossroad. We can all be part of a historic moment in our country by rewriting our history as a people. While the accident of colonialism divided us, we can as a people resolve to correct the past by addressing the historical injustice committed against the Bangsamoro people, and of weaving together a shared future for our next generation. 

Together, we can start to build a better future where all of us can live in peace while remaining proud of our heritage, and respectful of each other’s identity.

MILF Website

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