COMMENTARY: GRP should drop criminal charges against MILF chair now Taher G. Solaiman

Thus, Mohagher Iqbal, chief of the peace negotiating panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), was quoted by the www.luwaran.com last October 28.

 

During the13th Exploratory Talks between the GRP and the MILF peace negotiating panels in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last September 6-7, the GRP panel asked the Malaysian  facilitator that it be given till September 30 to submit its proposal on the strand on territory of the contentious ancestral domain issue.

 

Realizing the fact that it could not make it to its self-imposed deadline, the GRP panel, later, asked for an extension of the deadline until October 31, 2006.

 

Whether or not the GRP panel can make it to the deadline this time, no one knows yet.

 

One thing, however, is certain. The Philippine government should delete the name of Al Haj Murad and that of the other MILF members from the criminal charges filed against them in connection to the bombings in Tacurong City and Makilala, North Cotabato, if the peace talks must resume.

 

At least, this is what the MILF says. And rightly so.


Meanwhile, i
n a press communiqué dated October 25, 2006, Aleem Abdul Aziz Mimbantas, vice chair on military affairs of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) condemned “in the strongest words possible the maliciously false and blatantly fabricated charges of multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder” against MILF chair Al Haj Murad.

 

Mimbantas described the filing of such charges against Al Haj Murad as “a ploy to pressure the MILF to return to the negotiating table and use these trumped-up charges as leverage and as a bargaining tool to impose its unacceptable conditions in the negotiations on the Front.”

 

No less than Philippine National Police (PNP) Director-General Oscar Calderon admitted on October 12, 2006, when he visited Central Mindanao, that the PNP did not have evidence that would link the MILF to the three bombing incidents in Tacurong City and Makilala, North Cotabato last October 10 and in Cotabato City the next day.

 

At least four persons were injured in the Tacurong City bombing while six persons were killed and 29 others were injured in Makilala some eight hours later. No one was hurt in the bomb explosion in Cotabato City

Despite the absence of sufficient evidence, Supt. Marcelo Pintac, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in North Cotabato, facilitated the filing of multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder cases, last October 17, against Al Haj Murad and eight alleged MILF commanders in connection with the bombings in Makilala and Tacurong City.

Besides, twelve other persons were also charged with the same complaints, among them, Kagui Akmad Bayam, former spokesperson of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Presently, Bayam is the assistant secretary for external affairs in the office of Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

The inclusion of the name of Kagui Akmad Bayam is something preposterous, to say the least.  What baffles our mind even more is the claim by a “witness” that Al Haj Murad “personally supervised the planning and assembling of the bombs in Camp Usman Ibni Khattab in Magpet, North Cotabato”.

 

That Al Haj Murad, a renowned leader of an organization as big as the MILF, went to the area for the reason stated by the “witness”, indeed, defies reason.

Besides, we firmly believe that the MILF does not employ terrorism as a means to achieve its objectives, among them, to regain the illegally and immorally usurped legitimate and inalienable rights of the Bangsamoro people to freedom and self-determination.

Mimbantas, in the said press communiqué, said:

“This filing of ridiculous charges against the MILF Chairman is also a sinister scheme calculated to divert public attention from the breakdown of negotiations and the issues that caused the breakdown.

“By the same token, these baseless charges are intended to single out the MILF Chairman for character assassination in order to create disunity and demoralization within the Front, and to neutralize the surging spirit, morale and unity of the various sectors of the  Bangsamoro people in the context of our struggle for justice and freedom.

“In the fase of this new vicious plot targeting the leadership of the MILF, we declare that the Front, side by side with our people, stands firmly and solidly behind the MILF Chairman.

”As Vice Chairman for Military Affairs of the Front, therefore, I am serving notice to the Philippine government that we consider this latest affront against our most respected and beloved MILF Chairman AL Haj Murad as no less than an act of hostile provocation whose dire consequences will widen the existing cleavage between the MILF and the Philippine Government.

“The Philippine Government, thus, should ponder over the serious implications of this provocative act.  For this will definitely and detrimentally affect the Peace Process and hinder its movement forward as no legitimate revolutionary organization will ever agree into continuing the negotiations while its leaders are treated as criminals by the other party.”

The Philippine government should pay serious attention and take into account what the MILF says this time if it is serious enough in the peace negotiations.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Taher G. Solaiman is with the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society).

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