MILF goes to Malacanang for signing of Framework deal; OIC SecGen attends, too

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MAKATI CITY (MindaNews/14 October) – From the battlefields of Mindanao to Malacanang.

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will lead a delegation of around 200,  among them field commanders, to the signing of the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) on Monday afternoon at the Ceremonial Hall of Malacanan Palace.

MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal told MindaNews the MILF has a delegation of 190.

“They are here as the President’s guests,” Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process,  told MindaNews Sunday night.

Deles said the signing ceremonies will start at 1:30 p.m. with about 800 guests expected,  including Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohammad Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak who arrived Sunday and Prof. Ekemelddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (formerly Conference) who arrived Saturday.

Malaysia, a founding member of the OIC, has been facilitating the talks since 2001. The OIC brokered the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1976 and 1996,  organized in 2006 a Tripartite Review to look into the implementation of the 1996 peace pact, and has been trying to set up a Bangsamoro Coordination Forum between the MNLF and MILF.

Bakwits

Other guests include representatives of the war “bakwits” (internally displaced persons)  and indigenous peoples,  the diplomatic corps, the International Monitoring Team, International Contact Group,  humanitarian agencies, governors of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), non-governmental organizations, bishops and ulama, military officials, the Joint Ceasefire Committee, former peace panel members and the Malaysian facilitator of the GPH-MILF peace talks, Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed.

It is not clear if  MNLF chair Nur Misuari is attending.

The MNLF has been sitting as observer in the OIC since 1977, before Misuari’s vice chair, Salamat Hashim, broke away to form what initially was referred to as the “New MNLF” but was later renamed MILF.

In March this year, the peace panels approved the request of the  OIC to sit as observer in the GPH-MILF peace talks.

Ihsanoglu, in a message to the Bangsamoro Leaders Assembly in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, in July said that since the peace processes with the MILF and MNLF “revolve around the same problem and the same territory, the process of coordination between the two fronts has become of utmost necessity.”

OIC SecGen appeals to MNLF, MILF

“The OIC is trying to set up a Bangsamoro Coordination Forum between the MILF and MNLF, and I seize this opportunity to appeal once again to the two fronts to make this forum operative before the next meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers scheduled to be held in November,” Ihsanoglu said in his message read for him by Tahir Ahmad Saif, Deputy Head of the OIC Minorities Department, at the Leaders’ assembly.

An article posted on the OIC website Sunday said Ihsanoglu will meet with President Aquino and a number of senior government officials as well as with the MILF chair.

The article did not say if Ihsanoglu will meet with Misuari, who is reportedly not pleased with the crafting of the FAB.

Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan visited Misuari, a native of Sulu, in the latter’s residence in Zamboanga City Saturday night following news reports Misuari had warned of war anew.

Tan said Misuari denied having warned of war.  He said Misuari explained to him that “what he said was that the Framework Agreement  was “a recipe for crisis which may include violence in the South.”

“Peaceful means”

Tan quoted Misuari as saying  he is expressing his protest “through peaceful means” and that if he were to wage war, he wouldn’t run for ARMM Governor.

Misuari  in early October filed his certificate of candidacy for ARMM Governor in  the May 13, 2013 elections.

Misuari maintains the record of longest-serving  governor in the 22-year old ARMM.  He served as governor from September  30, 1996 to November 24, 2001 when he was arrested off Sabah for alleged illegal entry, days after he was alleged to have led a rebellion in Sulu and in Zamboanga City.

He was detained in Malaysia and was fetched by then Presidential Assistant for Mindanao Jesus Dureza on January 7, 2002 and was brought to his detention center on charges of rebellion – first in the bungalow detention center originally intended for the ousted President Joseph Estrada, later at the St. Luke’s hospital in Quezon City and from there was on house arrest in a two-story house in a village near the hospital, until his arrest  He was freed on bail on April 25, 2008.

The ARMM governor is supposed to serve a term of three years. Misuari served on holdover capacity after his first term because Congress failed to pass the law that would have amended the Organic Act of the ARMM.

ARMM abolition

The ARMM, which will be replaced by the Bangsamoro, will hold its last election in May next year. It will function alongside the all-Bangsamoro Transition Commission (TransCom) composed of seven representatives from government and eight representatives from the MILF. The MILF chairs the TransCom.

The TransCom is tasked to work on the drafting of the Bangsmaoro Basic Law;  on proposals to amend the Constitution “for purposes of accommodating and entrenching in the Constitution the agreements of the Parties whenever necessary without derogating from any prior peace agreements” and to coordinate, when necessary, development programs in the Bangsamoro communities in conjunction with the MILF’s Bangsamoro Development Agency and the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute and other agencies.

Once submitted by the TransCom, the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law which will also provide for the creation of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) “shall be certified as an urgent bill by the President.”

According to the FAB, the ARMM is “deemed abolished,” upon the promulgation and ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.  (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

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