DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/15 May) –The chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has congratulated presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte for his “historic victory” during the May 9 Presidential election and vowed to “partner with you and your administration.”
Addressing the letter dated May 10 to “His Excellency… President-elect Duterte,” MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said Duterte’s winning the electoral contest is “indeed a historic victory because for the first time in the history of this country, a true son of Mindanao in whose veins Moro blood runs is now the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines.”
In his campaign sorties, Duterte, the lone Mindanawon Presidential candidate would tell the crowd his grandmother was a Maranao and he has grandchildren who are Tausug. He would spend time to talk about Philippine history from the point of view of Mindanao and how the Moro people have been marginalized and minoritized and how important it is to “correct the historical injustice.”
Ghazali Jaafar, 1st Vice Chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (right) introduces the other members of the MILF Central Committee to presidential candidate and Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte during his visit in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao on February 27, 2016. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO
Duterte visited the MILF in their Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao noon of February 27. In his rally in Cotabato City that afternoon, Duterte declared that if he wins, “yung isang paa ng Moro ay nasa Malacanang na” (one foot of the Moro is already in Malacanang).
Murad’s eight-paragraph letter, e-mailed to Duterte’s chief executive assistant Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on May 11 and the signed letter handcarried to Davao on May 12 by Duterte’s February emissary to the MILF, said they remain “highly optimistic and confident that your victory would carry with it our hopes and aspirations for peace and justice in Mindanao.”
The letter noted that Duterte’s “defense of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) before and during the election campaign has in fact infused these optimism and confidence among our people, which should explain why they overwhelmingly supported your candidacy.”
Duterte is leading in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), a Liberal Party stronghold and the core territory of the future Bangsamoro autonomous political entity.
As of 4:45 a.m. May 15, partial and unofficial results posted on Comelec-GMA Mirror Server from 82.25% of election results processed, showed that Duterte got 768,730 followed by Liberal Party bet Mar Roxas with 220,132; Vice President Jejomar Binay with 106,029 votes; Senator Grace Poe with 65,812; and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago with 2,525.
Duterte got more votes in the ARMM than the 744,248 votes for reelectionist ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Liberal Party.
Murad said any initiative by Duterte “that would rectify the historical injustices committed on us and institute an enduring peace and development in our territories would be fully supported by the MILF and the Bangsamoro people.”
He said Duterte’s message of justice, freedom, equality and social justice “resonates with our aspiration for genuine change.”
“Status quo is not acceptable”
The Philippine government (GPH) and the MILF signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) on October 15, 2012 and subsequently the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) on March 27, 2014. The agreements stipulate that as a matter of fundamental principle, “the status quo is unacceptable” to both parties.
Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) talks about the challenges facing the Bangsamoro peace process in an interview with MindaNews at Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao on January 26, 2016. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO
“Your platform for system change precisely captures this principle,” Murad said adding that it is “in our best interest that your advocacy for federalism entrenches our aspiration for genuine self-rule in our homeland through the implementation of the CAB to put an end to the debilitating conflict that breeds anarchy and stimulates the rise of extremism.”
“Hopefully, through your efforts this can be realized by both Moros and Filipinos so that we can achieve unity and reconciliation as two nations or as component multi-nations enjoying parity of esteem and internal self-determination, and united together in a federalized association for the betterment of the Philippine State,” Murad said.
Murad assured Duterte that “we will partner with you and your administration.”
The peace process with the MILF is on the implementation phase which includes the passage of the BBL.
Under the FAB and CAB, the passage of the BBL will pave the way for the establishment of the Bangsamoro, the new autonomous political entity that would replace the ARMM. The ARMM is deemed abolished once the BBL is ratified.
Congress under the Aquino administration adjourned on February 3 without passing the law. Without the law, the ARMM continued and elected its new set of officials on May 9.
Under the Duterte administration, it is expected that the BBL is passed by December 2017 as the plebiscite to ratify the BBL requires six months preparation, and the transition period from the ARMM to the Bangsamoro requires at least a year.
If the BBL is passed by then, the transition period can begin by June 30, 2018, election of the first set of officials of the Bangsamoro can be held in May 2019 and the inauguration of the Bangsamoro can be held on June 30, 2019.
If no BBL is passed, the ARMM election in May 2019 will proceed as scheduled.
Bangsamoro as template
Murad was out of the country when Duterte visited Camp Darapanan on February 27. Duterte was received by MILF 1st Vice Chair Ghazali Jaafar and the Central Committee.
A Moro woman tries to get the attention of the people onstage where presidential candidate and Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte delivered his speech at the Cotabato City plaza on Saturday, February 27. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO
Duterte told them that he would convene a Constitutional Commission to amend the 1987 Constitution to change the system of government into federalism but “if it takes time, and if only to defuse tension, in my government I will convince Congress to pass the BBL then make it as a template for federal states.”
Peter Laviña, Duterte’s spokesperson early this week said the incoming President would propose to Congress the calling of a Constitutional Convention to amend the 1987 Constitution to pave the way for the shift to federalism.
At the Cotabato City plaza in the afternoon of February 27, Duterte stressed the need to correct the historical injustices committed against the Moro people and vowed that under his administration, “we will try to go federalism. Yang Bagsamoro sa mapa ngayon, wag nang galawin yan. Gawin na lang nating example na makopya sa lahat. Ang mangyayari nito, uunahin ko na lang pakiusapan ko ang Congress na we will pass the BBL (The Bangsamoro on the map now, let’s not touch that anymore. Let’s make it an example for the rest to copy. I will immediately ask Congress to pass the BBL).
He said he will also tell Nur Misuari “kopyahin na lang natin sila para sa Mindanao at buong Pilipinas” (let’s copy that in Mindanao and in the rest of the Philippines”).
Misuari, whom Duterte considers a friend, is founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) with whom government signed a Final Peace Agreement in 1996 and whose implementation has yet to be fully completed. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)