Under a ‘culture of peace’, MP NurRedha Misuari keeps flame of Bangsamoro dreams burning

Member of Parliament NurRedha Ibrahim Misuari. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 27 January) – NurRedha Ibrahim Misuari is no stranger to the Bangsamoro struggle.

But unlike her father Nur Misuari, founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who led a bloody armed revolution in the 1970s during the term of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., she is now waging a jihad (struggle) for the Bangsamoro people in Mindanao not in a war zone but in the battlefield that is the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).

At 28, Misuari is the youngest female member of the BTA, the interim body that governs the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), a homeland reaped through the blood, sweat and tears sowed by their forebears.

She took her oath as Member of Parliament before President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., son and namesake of the deceased strongman, at Malacañan Palace’s Heroes Hall on August 13, 2022.

One of the 16 women members of the 80-member BTA, Misuari expressed optimism that the dreams of their forebears and the mujahideens will bear fruit now that the “culture of peace” has been taking root in the Bangsamoro region.

“It’s somehow poetic to think that the peace process started under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. In Shaa Allah (by God’s Grace) with our collective efforts, we will achieve success during the time of another Marcos,” Misuari said.

MP NurRedha Misuari during the resumption of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority Parliament’s 12th regular session in December 2022. Photo from Facebook page of the Office of Hon. NurRedha Misuari

Marcos, Sr. and the MNLF forged the Tripoli Agreement in Libya on December 23, 1976, which provided for the creation of the first autonomous region in the southern Philippines. A year after the signing of the Tripoli Agreement, some MNLF founding members like Ustadz Salamat Hashim bolted away and formed the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). On September 2, 1996, the government and the MNLF signed the Final Peace Agreement (FPA), also called the Jakarta Accord.

Peace, however, remained elusive in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) even with the signing of the FPA, as the MILF continued fighting the government for the right to self-determination of Muslims in Mindanao.

Hashim led the MILF until his death in 2003. He was replaced by Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, who was appointed Bangsamoro Interim Chief Minister in 2019, since then addressed by his formal name Ahod Ebrahim.

The Philippine government and the MILF forged the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in 2014 after 17 years of peace negotiations. The creation of a new autonomous Bangsamoro region was the key component of the CAB and was realized in January 2019 following a plebiscite that ratified Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the BARMM, popularly called the Bangsamoro Organic Law. The ratification effectively dissolved the ARMM.

For Misuari, it was her first time to be part of the MILF-led BTA, and as one of the “torchbearers” of the dreams of her forebears, she’s trying to prove she’s worthy of the seat given to her at the Bangsamoro Parliament. 

The BTA would have ended its mandate on June 30, 2022 when the first set of elected officials shall have taken their oath of office. However, former President Rodrigo Duterte signed a measure postponing the first parliamentary elections, effectively extending the transition period in the Bangsamoro region.

Misuari was not part of the first BTA.  She and her half-brother Abdulkarim Tan Misuari served in the second BTA with the blessings of their father. The MNLF-Nur Misuari faction did not nominate anyone from its ranks for the first BTA.

NurRedha is the eldest of Nur’s children with third wife Tarhata Ibrahim while Abdulkarim is the eldest of the six children of Nur with first wife Desdemona Tan.

Her involvement in the BTA indicates that women could play significant roles in making a difference in the Bangsamoro peace process.

As a young woman with a strong faith and dedication to serving the Bangsamoro people, Misuari is showing that the jihad for their people nowadays is in the realm of the peace process, which recognizes the role of women as peacemakers unlike decades ago.

MP NurRedha Misuari attends the ASEAN Women Political Leadership Coalition for Change on Dec. 7 to 8, 2022 in Bali, Indonesia. Photo from Facebook page of the Office of Hon. NurRedha Misuari

When she was 16, Misuari was assigned by her father to serve as deputy head of the MNLF Peace Coordinating Committee and head of the MNLF National Identification Committee, which deals with the group’s membership cards. 

Undeniably at a very young age, she became an instrument to be a peacebuilder and connected to communities with the advocacy of empowering the Bangsamoro women and youth.

Misuari was the only child of her firebrand father and former University of the Philippines professor to have been born in Sulu.

She finished her elementary and high school in Quezon City, graduating from St. Joseph’s College with high scholastic records. Misuari finished her tertiary education magna cum laude, with a degree in Business Administration Major in Financial Management from the University of Immaculate Conception in Davao City in 2019.

Based on BTA records, Misuari has so far authored 29 principal acts, co-authored 50 acts, authored three principal resolutions and co-authored 53 proposed resolutions. 

Since she’s a woman and a youth, such sectors come close to her heart, particularly in the island-provinces that are far from the Bangsamoro seat of government in Cotabato City.

“We will be conducting more research on how we can help the women and youth on the ground (particularly) on their health, protecting their rights and give them a voice, especially the young Bangsamoro women in the region,” she said.

Misuari, who is representing Sulu aside from MNLF, is a member of the BTA committees on social services, science and technology, agriculture, fisheries and agrarian reform, education, and justice.

As a Parliament member, she vowed to design policies, laws, programs, projects and services that would benefit not just the youth and the women in the Bangsamoro region but the rest of the constituents.

Among others, Misuari strongly pushed for the review and strengthening of Presidential Decree 1083 or the Code of Muslim Personal Laws, which was formulated during the time of Marcos, Sr.

PD 1083 is a decree to ordain and promulgate a code recognizing the system of Filipino Muslim laws, codifying Muslim personal laws and providing for its administration and for other purposes.

“It will not just empower the Bangsamoro women but all our Bangsamoro constituents,” she said. 

MP NurRedha Misuari (L) joins the presentation of the “Youth Monitors: A Citizens Community Monitoring Initiative on Women, Peace and Security” report by the Generation Peace Network on December 9, 2022 in Pasig City. Photo from Facebook page of the Office of Hon. NurRedha Misuari

Misuari is working closely with the Bangsamoro Youth Commission and the Bangsamoro Women Commission to push her advocacies in the BARMM.

She also gives priorities on addressing issues in early marriage for women, abortion and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of the constituents in the Bangsamoro region. (Johaira Sahidala via MindaNews)

(Johaira Sahidala is one of the staff writers of the Bangsamoro Information Office (BIO). This article was produced under a mentoring project initiated by the Mindanao Institute of Journalism with support from The Asia Foundation.)