Respect past agreements, MILF urges gov’t

CAMP DARAPANAN, Maguindanao (MindaNews/06 September) — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has called on government to respect the agreements reached by both parties in the past 14 years of peace negotiations.

The call was made by MILF Chair Al-haj Murad Ebrahim who said in a press conference here that they really want the peace process to move forward and “the only way to do this is to respect all past agreement we already have signed.”

“We do not want another deadlock,” stressed Murad in the press conference which he described as part of the MILF’s way of “maintaining dialogue with you so that through you the public will be kept informed not only of the policies and programs of the MILF but also of the continuing search for peace in the Bangsamoro homeland.”

Failure to respect and honor past agreements, he said, will bring the 14-year peace process to square one. “We will be going back to scratch without considering all those already agreed upon.”

After reviewing the government’s “three-in-one” proposal, which constitutes a reform package for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Murad said that government could actually deliver it without negotiating with the MILF.

Dean Marvic Leonen, chief government negotiator, described their proposal as “principled, realistic and practical approach to bring peace and uplift lives in Mindanao.”

The “three components for one solution to the Bangsamoro problem” was further explained by the government as an approach that seeks to “bring peace and improve the lives of the people and communities in the troubled south who have long suffered from the brutality of decades-long armed conflict.”

Leonen further explained that their approach includes “massive economic development, political settlement with the MILF, and cultural-historical acknowledgment,” which he claimed was a product of “extensive consultations with various sectors in Mindanao.”

The massive development plan, he said, will “pursue the transformation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). This will entail a massive program of social services and economic development that will prepare the people and strengthen foundations.”

The second component of the “3 for 1” proposal is political settlement or peace accord which “focuses more on the doables in the short term rather than dwell on contentious and divisive issues whose solutions may take a longer time to address.”

But Murad countered, saying the government could actually do its entire proposal without bringing them to the negotiating table.

The political settlement that Leonen’s panel has proposed would require the creation of a Bangsamoro Commission that will supervise the implementation of the peace pact, which will be composed of representatives of the government, the MILF and the stakeholders in the Mindanao peace process.

The third component, the panel chair said, is the cultural-historical acknowledgment that “corrects historical narratives and fosters appreciation of different cultures borne out of the struggles of all Filipinos including those of Bangsamoro identity.”

Murad, however, told government that if it limits the search for solution to the Bangsamoro issues within the framework of the Constitution, they may fail to find an end to the decades-old conflict, which he stressed “is sovereignty-based.”

“We are negotiating because we are trying to solve the problem but the government seems to be trying to avoid and create divisive issues, therefore not solving the problem but just managing the problem similar to what other past Presidents (did),” said the MILF leader who used to be the Front’s military chief.

Murad succeeded Salamat Hashim, the founder of the MILF who died in 2003.

The MILF broke away from the Nur Misuari-led Moro National Liberation Front, which forged a Final Peace Agreement with the government on September 2, 1996.

“This is a sovereignty-based problem that cannot be solved if we limit the solution within the context of and limitations of the Constitution,” Murad emphasized as he noted that “past administrations have implemented all development projects (in Mindanao) but failed because the solution (to the problem) is political.”

This is the reason why the MILF has kept “insisting that we fast-track the political solution of the problem that will encourage the next generation to toe the line of the peace process,” he added. (Romy Elusfa/MindaNews Contributor)

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2011/09/07/respect-past-agreements-milf-urges-govt/


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