A “vintage Nur” speech and the once-upon-a-time-schoolboys of the MNLF

The MNLF personalities, among them Muslimin Sema, Hatimil Hassan, Parouk Hussin, Ustadz Sharif Zain Jali — now in their 50s and 60s, were “schoolboys” or forced-to-drop-from-college-boys when Nur Misuari first signed a peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1976.

“We were called schoolboys before,”  recalled Hassan, vice chair of the MNLF before it broke into factions in 2001 and reunited for this meeting.

Thirty-one years and the “final” peace agreement later, nine years of that under an Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governed by MNLF chair Nur Misuari (1996 to 2001) and  MNLF foreign affairs secretary Parouk Hussin (2001 to 2005), that “peace” for the Bangsamoro has remained elusive.

Misuari, who failed to come to Jeddah because he couldn’t present to court a sovereign guarantee from the Saudi Arabian government that he would return as soon as the Tripartite Meeting is over, made sure he was “present” through a 38-minute speech delivered for him by Al Tillah, the new MNLF spokesperson.

Lawyer Randolph Parcasio, MNLF head of delegation, had to deliver an impromptu speech at the inaugural session late Saturday afternoon, as Misuari’s opening statement was e-mailed quite late and was still being printed out as Parcasio was speaking.

“Vintage Nur,” was the consensus of the people from both the government and MNLF delegations who had witnessed Misuari’s presentations before the OIC.

Misuari’s speech was the longest delivered during the inaugural session of the Tripartite Meeting that is currently reviewing the 11-year old implementation of the 1996 “Final Peace Agreement.”

But for the Misuari watchers, it was among his shortest.

The contents of the speech, including the saber-rattling — alarming for those who hear Misuari speak for the first time — was also “vintage Nur.”

But many – from both the Philippine government and the MNLF — were displeased with Misuari’s questioning of the legality of the Philippine government’s plan to sign a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (see earlier report).

Parcasio said there was no time to go over Misuari’s speech as it was e-mailed late.

In the 1992-1996 peace negotiations, Misuari’s speech was always the longest and the last to be reproduced as he was wont to add several marginal notes around his then personally- typewritten speeches prior to his delivery.

The MNLF was issued an observer status in the 57-country OIC in 1977.  Until his arrest in Sabah, Malaysia in late November 2001 and his detention in the Philippines from January 2002 for alleged rebellion, Misuari headed the MNLF delegation to the OIC activities. He was based here, also the base of the OIC,  from the early 1970s to 1996 when he returned home to assume the post of ARMM governor. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)