Maranaos ask UN to intervene to save MOA-AD

MARAWI CITY (MindaNews/February 18, 2009) – The Supreme Court may have declared as unconstitutional the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, but Maranaos here are still hoping it could still be saved with help from the United Nations.

In a rally here today, thousands of residents asked the UN to help solve the conflict mainly through the aborted MOA-AD as “the best solution to Mindanao problem.”

An elderly woman, her clenched fists raised, shouted “Allahuakbar” as she sat in front of a streamer that read “we need food, not bomb.” Others carried placards that said “honor and respect the MOA-AD.”

Abdullah Lacs Dalidig, chairperson of the Multisectoral Muslim Movement for Peace and Development, said similar rallies also took place in the cities of General Santos, Cotabato, Kidapawan, and Pagadian as well as in Manila.

Dalidig said the rallies aimed to draw UN intervention by letting it know that “this conflict is actually a conflict of two nations.”

“We are already frustrated with how the government treated us and how they managed the peace process. Papaikutin lang daw nila kami (they would just try to outsmart us) that’s why we are seeking the assistance of foreign nations,” he said Dalidig, adding “these statements hurt us.”

“We also wish to inform the government that the MILF is not the only stakeholder of the MOA-AD but all Muslim communities,” he said.

Allan Balangi, chairperson of a network of Muslim youth organizations, raised a copy of the MOA-AD while explaining how it was declared by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional and why the government did not sign it.

“They fooled us. They should have understood that this document could make peace possible,” he said.

Dalidig noted that the new government peace panel has members whom he perceived to be lacking in knowledge about the Mindanao conflict. He said the government should have appointed those who are closely following the peace process.

“We have truly lost our trust in the government,” he said.

He, however, said it was still possible for the government and MILF panels to make the MOA-AD a basis for the reopening of talks even if the pact has been declared unconstitutional.

In Manila, a thousand Moro youths and elders marched toward Chino Roces Street (formerly Mendiola), near Malacanang, to ask government to “honor and sign the MOA-AD.”

Drieza Lininding, a Moro youth leader, said that they stopped “at a barricade set up by Manila police.”

The group said in a statement that “the GRP’s offer of resumption of peace talk without putting MOA-AD on the peace table is a betrayal of good faith and lack of intention to pursue peace. It is an injustice.”

It said the government should realize that the MOA-AD is “realizable and a workable framework as a formula for a lasting peace.”

The recent issuance of Executive Order 777 that seeks to amend the law creating the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao shows GRP doubletalk and bad faith, it added.

“The Bangsamoro p
eople deserves more than a cosmetic surgery of a failed ARMM Law, a law that deepened poverty, perpetrated  injustice, institutionalized political warlordism and dynasties, lack of health care, illiteracy, corruption and so on,” it said.

The Young Moro Professionals meanwhile, appeal “for more informed judgments, constructive dialogue, an affirmative reaching out by Manila 's media and politicians to the grassroots populace in the South to understand the search for genuine peace.”

They also encouraged “all Muslims to stand up and rise to condemn violence and aggression on the innocent.” 

“We call on our ulama, MNLF, MILF and traditional leaders to help bridge the mistrust by reaching out to our Christian brethren. Be the messengers of messages of non-violence and peace – SALAAM as Khalifas who enjoin what is good and forbid what is wrong.”

They said both the military and MILF must be held accountable for any atrocities and violations of the rules of war.

The march-rally in Manila was joined by Free the Bangsamoro Movement, Assalam Bangsamoro People’s Association, Anak Mindanao Party List, Mindanao Alliance for Peace, Aksyon ng Mamamayang Nagkakaisa, Young Moro Professional Network and Peoples Solidarity Action for Peace.  (Violeta M. Gloria/MindaNews)