MNLF forces arrive in Davao for ‘peace summit’

MNLF chairman Nur Misuari claimed 25,000 are coming over from many parts of Mindanao, including Sulu, Basilan and Palawan, to attend the summit. He claimed, too, that 10,000 have already arrived in Davao City as of today for the gathering to be held at the Rizal Memorial College.

He said summit participants would be housed in 600 classrooms in public schools and convene at the Rizal Magsaysay College gymnasium where they would all renew their oath of allegiance to the MNLF immediately after the caravan around this city.

A program of the summit sent to this reporter showed that Misuari, who was recently allowed to post bail after six years, three months and 18 days of incarceration on charges of rebellion, is the keynote speaker, but organizers of the activity still could not disclose other details.

Ustadz Murshi Ibrahim, the MNLF secretary-general, is set to discuss the overview of the summit while lawyer Randolph Parcasio, the group’s chief legal counsel, would update the participants on the Tripartite Agreement regarding the implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA).

The Tripartite Conference, composed of representatives of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), the MNLF and the government, had been conducting a review of the provisions of the FPA to identify those that are yet to be implemented.

In the program, those who would deliver their messages of support include City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Rev. Absalom Cerveza (who is representing the "Christian MNLF leader"), Raja Buntas, a "highlander MNLF leader," and Salem Demuna from the Bangsamoro youth.

A day after the Summit, civil society organizations have set "exclusive closed-door meetings" with Misuari. Among them are the Bangsamoro Young Leaders Forum (BMYLF), which would present a position paper to the MNLF chair, and the Mindanao Peace Weavers (MPW).

Earlier, the BMYLF passed a resolution calling on the Bangsamoro youth to "revert back" to their demand for independence because the government has failed to implement provisions of a number of agreements it entered into with the Bangsamoro people.

The MPW, on the other hand, would follow up with Misuari its bid for an NGO observer to the OIC which they submitted two years ago.