SULTAN KUDARAT, Maguindanao (MindaNews/14 February) — Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim has a lot of explaining to do about their new relationship with the Philippine government (GPH) — from adversaries to partners — even as they have yet to sign a comprehensive peace pact. But the most difficult to explain to are his six grandchildren.
Murad recalled in an interview late Tuesday afternoon that when he went to Malacanang to witness the signing of the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) on October 15 last year, his grandchildren, especially the younger ones, asked him, “Di ba, Baba, kalaban natin ang gobyerno? Bakit ngayon magkaibigan na tayo?” (Baba, isn’t the government our enemy? Why are we friends with it now?)
“Baba” is Arabic for father. Murad’s grandchildren call him “Baba” because that is how his two children call him.
How did he answer his grandchildren, MindaNews asked.
The MILF chair, who is turning 65 in May, said he told them “hindi naman yung gobyerno na mismo ang kalaban natin. meron lang tayong gustong kunin sa kanila na… (It is not the government itself that we are fighting. We just want to claim something from government that…)”
“It takes lots of explanation.. kasi sila mismo were surprised kasi kalaban” [because they themselves were surprised because (government was) enemy], Murad said.
The President’s visit last Monday to launch the socio-economic initiative , Sajahatra Bangsamoro (Peace Bangsamoro), again drew questions from Murad’s grandchildren.
He said the most inquisitive was his second to the youngest grandson who is eight years old.
The boy, he said, asked him “Ano ba yan si PNoy (Presidential nickname of Aquino). Kakampi ba natin yan or kalaban?” (What is PNoy. Is he our ally or our enemy?)
Murad admitted it is “quite difficult” to explain to them “na hindi tao ang kalaban natin” (that our enemy is not the person).
The mere mention of Murad’s grandchildren quickly lightens up his face. It did last Tuesday.
As it also did when MindaNews asked about his grandchildren in an interview at the receiving room of the MILF peace panel’s office in Camp Darapanan on September 5, 2011, a month and a day after his first meeting with President Aquino in Japan.
At that time when the peace process was 14 years old, his eldest grandchild was 12 and the youngest was 3.
In the 2011 interview, MindaNews asked if his grandchildren asked him about the Bangsamor sub-state that they were proposing to government.
“Well, the elder ones asked but the younger ones cannot comprehend,” he replied.
That interview came two days after then GPH peace panel chair Marvic Leonen posted on his Facebook wall that his eight-year old daughter had asked him, “Papa, why don’t you just give them the government that they want?”
Did his grandchildren ask what they were negotiating for, Murad was asked in the 2011 interview: “Yeah. The elder ones, every time when I’m with my children, usually they are very curious kung anong nangyayari (about what is happening) and of course they have seen me on TV. Nagiging curious sila” (They become curious),” he said.
He said he explained to them “in a very simple way” that “we have to do this struggle not for us but for them, for their future.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)