MILF chair seeks help from all international NGOs, communities

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DARAPANAN, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao  (MindaNews/30 October) — Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim urged all international non-government organizations (NGO) and communities to extend assistance in support to the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).

“We need all the assistance of all international NGOs and communities so we let the people feel that there is happening in the ground,” he said in a press conference in Camp Darapanan, his first after the signing of the FAB in Malacanan Palace on October 15.

The Bangsamoro entity with ministerial form of government will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao by 2016 after a law creating it shall have been ratified.

By mid-November, the MILF will go back to the negotiating table with the government panel to discuss the annexes on wealth sharing, power sharing and normalization.

Murad also appealed to Turkey’s IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation to continue and intensify their interventions in the Bangsamoro communities.

“The only thing we can appeal to them is to continue and intensify their involvement in the ground because we need more international players to involve in the ground as this will involve rebuilding of a nation that has been destroyed by war for decades continuously,” he said.

He cited that for the Bangsamoro people what may be more important are livelihood, rehabilitation and infrastructure programs.

“Even during this period, when there is no agreement yet, people already started to feel that something is happening. So maybe after the signing [of the FAB], then there will be intensification of these programs,” he noted.

He said they are looking forward to the support of the international communities, citing members of the International Contact Group (ICG) from Japan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and other countries.

The creation of the ICG in December 2009 helped resume peace talks between the Philippine government and the MILF in February 2010.

He also mentioned the International Monitoring Team (IMT), which is composed of members from Brunei Darussalam, Libya, Malaysia, Norway and Indonesia.

Some members of the IMT and MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal were also present.

Murad noted that after the signing of the FAB, the IMT “now will gradually be transformed.”

“Their task will be expanded in order that they will not only be monitoring the ceasefire, but they will also be maybe monitoring, it depends on what is agreed upon by the party,” he added.

He cited that the IMT could also be monitoring the implementation of the framework agreement, aside from monitoring humanitarian relief and development programs in the Bangsamoro area.

“So the IMT will be here Insha’ Allah (Allah willing) and what we see is their role will not be decreased, but it will be expanded and they will be performing a more important role,” he said.

According to Article VIII (Normalization) of the FAB, the Joint Coordinating Committees on Cessation of Hostilities as well as the Ad hoc Joint Action Group with the participation of the IMT shall continue to monitor the ceasefire agreement until the full decommissioning of the MILF forces.

Both parties also agreed “to intensify development efforts for rehabilitation, reconstruction and development of the Bangsamoro, and institute programs to address the needs of MILF combatants, internally displaced persons, and poverty-stricken communities.” (Lorie Ann Cascaro/MindaNews)

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