MILF declares Kato “bughaat;” says Kato has “formally split from MILF”

KUALA LUMPUR (MindaNews/22 August) – The Central Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has declared  Ustadz Amiril Umra Kato and his followers a “bughaat,” an Arabic term meaning “one who defies or who does not obey a lawful order of a ruler or duly mandated authority” and are “no longer members of the MILF “unless they cease and desist without delay their anti-MILF campaigns,” MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal said at the resumption of the peace talks with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) here.

Like previous GPH-MILF sessions, this morning’s session at the Executive Boardroom of the Royale Chulan Hotel was held behind closed doors.

MindaNews got hold of a copy of the three-page statement where Iqbal announced that Resolution No. 03-06 took effect on August 18 after MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim signed it. There was no mention of penalties imposed on a “bughaat” but the MILF also acknowledged that a “new twist in Kato’s case had developed very swiftly” in that Kato has “formally split from the MILf and formed a new organization called Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Front (BIFF).”

“As a consequence, the MILF Central Committee has to revisit the Resolution. How it deals with this new situation is not in the domain of the MILF peace panel to know at the moment. As far as we are concerned, the decision contained in the resolution cited above is all what we can officially transmit to our good counterpart from the GPH,” he said.

Iqbal, however, stressed that Kato’s group is “a tiny group, not even one per cent of the entire military strength of the MILF” and that he expects the government “not to make a mountain out of this molehill.”

Iqbal said Kato beame a “headache” to the MILF after the aborted signing on August 5, 2008, the already initialed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD).

“We are doing what we can to assuage his feeling and grievance arising out of the failure of government to sign the MOA-AD and the prolonged delay in the negotiation,” Iqbal said, adding Talio Silongan, one of Kato’s commanders, had already surrendered to the MILF. “More are sending feelers and are expected to follow soon.”

Kato was among the subjects tackled in the hour-long executive session with the Malaysian facilitator, Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed, at the nearby Sri Bendahara room from 9:12 a.m. to 10:12 a.m. Key members of the GPH and MILF peace panels came out of that session unsmiling.

Resolution 03-06 cited three declarations:

–          That Kato and his followers are “no longer members of the MILF unless they cease and desist without delay their anti-MILF campaigns and other related activities that are intended to discredit and destruct the entire legitimate leadership of the MILF and henceforth return to the fold of the MILF;

–          That they must “stop immediately spreading rumors and malicious accusationsagainst the leadership and members of the MILF;” and

–          That the Assembly of the Ulama will meet again not later than 10 days after Eid’l Fitr, the end of the Ramadan, “to decide what is the best option in order to presere the brotherhood, unity , solidarity, cooperation and dignity of the leadership and members of the MILf or the preservation and maintenance of its unified political leadership and military command.”

Iqbal said the Central Committee also resolved to “closely monitor” Kato’s reaction and compliance to the Resolution.

But with the latest development about Kato forming the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Front, Iqbal said the MILF Central Committee “has to revisit the resolution” and how it will deal with the new situation is “not in the domain of the MILF peace panel to know at the moment.”

In an interview in April, Kato told MindaNews he set up the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) around March 2010, three months after he tendered his resignation as commander of the 105th Base Command of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) of the MILF.

In  a statement, Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said.the GPH panel wants the status of Kato clarified because “the government views the Kato issue with serious concern as it has a tremendous impact on the negotiations.”   (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

 

 

 

 

 

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