MILF warrior Bravo takes the peace path

KAUSWAGAN, Lanao del Norte (MindaNews/17 November) — From warrior to peacemaker.

Dropping his war overtures, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) commander Abdurahman Macapaar, aka Kumander Bravo, stunned his listeners in Barangay Delabayen here when he asked them Saturday to support the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).

He also assured Christians living inside the proposed Bangsamoro territory that they will be treated equally and fairly along with the Muslim residents once the agreement is implemented.

“Walang Muslim, walang Christians. Tayong lahat ay pantay pantay (There will be no Muslims, no Christians. We are all equal),” Bravo told a crowd of 1,500 people, mostly Maranaos, who gathered at a madrasah in Delabayan, his home village.

Bravo urges residents to support the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro. MindaNews photo by Froilan Gallardo

Bravo urged Maranaos to rally behind the FAB signed by the MILF and the Philippine government last October 15, but asked them to remain vigilant and see to it that all its provisions would be implemented.

“Support the Framework Agreement so we can achieve peace in Mindanao,” Bravo said, shouts of “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the greatest) thundering from the approving crowd.

Bravo’s call for peace came as a positive note to Maranaos and Christians in Lanao del Norte who are used to his war rhetoric in the past.

Bravo, who is the military chief of the MILF Northwestern Command, led three attacks in the towns of Kauswagan, Maigo and Kolambugan in Lanao del Norte during the 2000 all-out war of then President Joseph Estrada, the 2003 Buliok war that led to the fall of the late MILF chairman Salamat Hashim’s stronghold there, and in 2008, due to the botched signing of the controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD).

Bravo and his men were reported to have considered splitting with the MILF along with MILF 105th Base Command chief Amiril Umra Kato, who waged fierce attacks in 2008 following the aborted MOA-AD signing that led then to the displacement of at least 500,000 civilians.

Kato eventually formed the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters but Bravo remained with the MILF, which assigned him to head their forces in Northwestern Mindanao.

On Saturday, Bravo caught by surprise those who are used to his fiery advocacy for a separate Bangsamoro homeland when he strongly supported the FAB.

For three days since Tuesday, the presence of Bravo and his 300 armed men in Barangay Delabayen and Munai town, also in Lanao del Norte,  raised tension among the residents who feared that another shooting war will erupt again.

The presence of the Philippine Army also sparked the tension when it deployed tanks and troops to counter Bravo and his followers, who retreated to Munai town last Wednesday.

Apparently, Bravo did not inform the GPH-MILF joint Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) that they will attend the FAB information campaign rally in Delabayen.

Following frantic calls to their respective CCCH teams, which were in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with their respective peace panels for the continuation of negotiations, a shooting war was averted on Thursday.

The joint CCCH team approved the request of Bravo to attend the FAB rally, provided he will come with only 15 unarmed men.

Bravo came with only unarmed men in Delabayan Saturday morning. But he was armed with a pistol; a grenade hanging on his MILF fatigue uniform while a bolo was tucked in his back.

Maranao women listen as MILF commander Abdurahman Macapaar aka Kumander Bravo asks fellow Maranaos to support the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro during an Information campaign rally in Barangay Delabayen, Kauswagan town in Lanao del Norte on Nov. 17, 2012. MindaNews photo by Froilan Gallardo

Lama Macapaar,  Bravo’s elder brother, was elated that the government allowed his brother to attend the FAB information campaign in Delabayen, where they grew up.

“This is already a victory. He came here not as an outlaw but as a representative of the MILF,” the elder Macapaar said.

Macapaar said he embraced Bravo, whom he had not seen for 20 years, when they met in Delabayen last Friday night.

“We barely saw each other when he was on the run. We feared that he will be arrested if he came to see us. Now he is free to see us,” the 70-year-old Macapaar said. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)

 

 

 

 

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/peace-process/2012/11/17/milf-warrior-bravo-takes-the-peace-path-backs-fab/

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