(Message delivered by Muslimin G. Sema when he stepped down as Chair of the MNLF during the Central Committee meeting on Sunday, February 19, 2017 in Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur).
To my fellow members of the Central Committee of the Moro National Liberation Front;
Assalamu Alaikom Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh;
No one could ever imagine the Moro National Liberation Front can surmount the decades of intrigues, division and abject one man rule. But we survived.
Every intrigue, we survived; Every demeaning branding as traitors, we survived; Every attempt to further divide us, we survived; Every systematic isolation, we survived, and Every attack at our relevance, alignment and commitment to our cause and the aspirations of people, we survived.
We withstood the antagonism of time and political changes not because of our desire for power but mainly on our constant and consistent desire to achieve our people’s aspirations, no matter what it takes.
Likewise, our commitment to a just and lasting peace was challenged like no other in the history of the Bangsamoro Struggle. We were pushed to the wall with no choice except to abandon the peace process. Yet we did not abandon. We held on with an unbreakable spirit.
We overcame the seemingly insurmountable challenges because we held on to our unity and to our firm adherence in the collective leadership of the Central Committee where Wa Amruhoom Shura Bainahoom is supreme.
We are firm, we are adamant, we are resolute that our victory, our people’s victory rests not on one man but on a united front collectively led by its members.
It is almost nine years now since you have elected me in 2008 to be your Chairman in the Central Committee. I accepted the challenge; and where we are right now in our struggle and in the scheme of events taking place in our homeland is the full measure of the responsibility you have entrusted me. We have had shortcomings during my tenure but we have had substantial successes in our political struggle and I am confident that our achievements in the last decade has placed us in a rightful spot and on target.
Nonetheless, I ask for forgiveness for the shortcomings I may have committed as chairman of the central committee.
That being said, the Moro National Liberation Front must move forward further. We are now at a peculiar stage of our struggle brought about by the political changes that occurred around us.
We must take notice of the following:
- The Philippines has a new President who is from Mindanao.
- The OIC has a new Secretary General.
- We have established strategic positioning in the peace process by a strengthened working relationship with our brothers in the MILF through the Bangsamoro Coordinating Forum
- The convergence process where the implementation of all peace agreements under one implementing law is now possible.
- The Government of the Philippines is geared towards amending the 1987 Constitution leaning strongly on establishing a federal system of governance.
- The continued rise of Islamic Extremism. We must meet all of these unfolding events head on for the sake of peace and the next generation cognizant that any failure on our part will further justify our youth’s bolder resort to extreme measures.
Brothers and sisters, in order that we remain at pace with the political events taking place, there is no doubt of the need for us to adapt in a manner responsive and appropriate. Our response should be calibrated, that we should also have a new and reinvigorated collective leadership. In today’s meeting of the Central Committee, we should keenly glimpse at the present with all its configurations and characterization that every one of us must come to terms with, in order that the struggle and aspirations of our people will fit in the shapes and sizes of the events taking place.
Thus, we must agree that the Collective Leadership of the Moro National Liberation Front must be further strengthened by a massive reorganization from helm to hem. But our thrust to reorganize must not be merely parochial. Rather, it must be reflective of our gaze of the present stage of our struggle and our foresight. Our reorganization should result to increase the burning ember in our hearts, inspiring all of us, from top to bottom, to unite beyond the islands, mountains, waters and tribal biases that separate and differentiate us and to be as ardent revolutionaries as when we were still able to carry our weapons, our rucksacks, our injured comrades and the bodies of our martyred brothers.
Brothers and sisters in the Central Committee, our Jihad Fii Sabilillah has been prophesied to succeed.
Yet our success is conditioned largely on the strength of our faith and the choices we make and not on the chances we have or we take. Thus, if we choose to continue; if we choose to hold on to our ideology and slogans; if we choose to unite and depend on each other; We will be victorious.
Nevertheless, our chances of achieving our aspirations during our lifetime is slimmer as time passes by. Hence, our task to reorganize must be geared towards ensuring the achievement of our collective aspirations even when time will have run out on us. We must measure up to the challenges of the present and at the same time measure up for the future in a manner that our decision to reorganize is an essential transition to the future.
Finally, my personal decision to step down as Chairman of the Central Committee reflects my strong adherence to the collective leadership of the Central Committee, the democratic values enshrined in the Charter of the MNLF, and to reiterate to the whole world, that no one man shall forever rule the MNLF and the Bangsamoro.
Brothers and sisters, I step down with the pride and honor you bestowed me when you trusted me to lead the central committee and the MNLF. I step down fully aware that I will be judged by the Almighty according to what history has witnessed. I am stepping down lighthearted, at peace with you and at peace with the whole world.
Wa Billahi Tawfiq Wal Hidayah Wassalaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh.