16 Moro youth groups to pursue struggle for independence

In a meeting convened by the Bangsamoro Young Leaders Forum (BYLF) on May 4 and 5 at the Mergrande Resort here over the weekend, the groups expressed dismay at the outcomes of the peace processes with both the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The renewed pro-independence stance appeared to be an offshoot of the scheduled pullout of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team that has spawned fears of another war in Mindanao between government forces and the MILF.

"It is crystal clear: This government will not grant us our right to self-determination. We have to struggle for it. This government could not even implement simple agreements it entered into with the Bangsamoro people," Adzfar Usman, a youth leader from Jolo, said.

Usman’s sentiment reflected that of some 30 other youth leaders which was contained in a manifesto released to media.

The manifesto said the decision to revert to the demand for independence was "an option to achieve their aspiration for total peace, justice, development and freedom pursuant to their inalienable right as a people being guaranteed by the Charter of the United Nations."

In their statement titled "Stop divide and rule and dilly-dallying tactic; Honor commitments to the peace process," the youth groups presented two demands and three appeals for the government and Moro fronts.
The BYLF demanded the 1) full implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement and the holding of the 3rd tri-partite meeting in Davao City, and, 2) the immediate resumption of the GRP-MILF talks and the subsequent signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain based on the agreed consensus points.

The Moro youth leaders also appealed to the international community "to help us push the peace processes to arrive at a final political settlement" as they also called on the Moro fronts "not to be deceived by the treachery of government."
The Moro youths noted that even the MNLF and MILF are not united in their "beliefs, ideologies and strategies."

They called on the two groups to "come to common terms, consolidate their ranks to further strengthen the Bangsamoro peoples' quest for freedom and to define their own destiny as self-governing and independent peoples."
The manifesto came after peace groups in Mindanao expressed "frustrations over Malacanang's failure" to heed their call to appeal to the Malaysian government to extend the tour of duty of its contingents to the IMT.  

The youth groups also lambasted the government for declaring that "it is most interested in solving the Mindanao problem than any sector."

Drieza Lininding, co-founder of the Free the Bangsamoro Movement, cited in his workshop report that "aside from the colonial masters in Malacanang, we also have Moro political leaders who do not have a common understanding of our assertion for the right to self-determination."
"Some of these officials think that if the MNLF or the MILF wins the struggle, they would no longer be in power," Lininding said.     
Arnel Pinduruan of the Learned Kagan Muslim Foundation Inc, of Compostela Valley asserted that they "must always be conscious of the teachings of Islam" as they struggle for independence.
The youth groups noted that some Moro revolutionaries engaged in armed struggle "do not even pray and are doing evil things that we should avoid if we want Allah to help us achieve victory."
The BYLF said it will launch its campaign on July 4, the traditional Philippine-American Friendship Day, which it called "Bangsamoro Colonization Day."

The organizations were represented by youth leaders from nine provinces and five cities in Mindanao.

Among the groups that attended were the National Bangsamoro Youth Association (NABAYA), United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD), Bangsamoro Youth Assembly (BMYA), Young Moro Professional (YMP), IQRAA Islam Foundation Inc., Bangsamoro Center for Just Peace (BCJP), Alliance of Bangsamoro Women for Special Concern (ABWSC);

United Youth of the Philippines (UNYPHIL), HOMELAND Nation of Freedom Learned Kagan Foundation, Inc. Mindanao Proactive Professional, Inc., Coalition of Muslim Organization (CMO), Bangsamoro Young Professional Student Alliance, Youth for Knowledge Based Society Ittihadush Shabab Al Muslimin Inc. (Romy Elusfa/Special to MindaNews)