Misuari’s temporary liberty ends April 27; MNLF working on extension

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 21 April) —  The six-month temporary liberty granted  by the court  to Nur Misuari, founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) ends on April 27 but the MNLF is working for its extension.

“Ma-extend Maas” (Misuari’s temporary liberty will be extended), Randolph Parcasio, chair of the peace implementing panel of the MNLF-Misuari faction, said in a text message to MindaNews Friday afternoon. MindaNews asked if he had filed a motion to seek extension but he has not responded as of 6 p.m.

The court gave Misuari temporary liberty “to allow him to attend peace talk sessions with the government.”

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte meets with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Prof. Nur Misuari at the Presidential Guest House in Davao City on March 27, 2017. RENE LUMAWAG/Presidential Photo

Parcasio and the government’s implementing panel chair, Underscretary Nabil Tan, the Deputy Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, have yet to meet formally although they have met informally at least four times.

Secretary Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said the panels will meet in early May.

“There’s a plan for that mechanism that engages the MNLF of chairman Nur Misuari and the government panel to officially make a call on the President so that they get some marching orders from the President in accordance with the President’s peace roadmap,” he told MindaNews on Thursday.

“There are two dates in early May that are proposed, depending on the availability of the President,” he said.

Judge Ma. Rowena Modesto-San Pedro of the Pasig Regional Trial Court in Pasig City in an order dated  October 27, 2017 granted the “motion to suspend proceedings and enforcement of warrants of arrest against Misuari” for a period of six months from October 27, “unless sooner lifted by the court.”

Warrants of arrest had been issued against Misuari and 59 others for rebellion and violation of  Republic Act 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and other Crimes against Humanity following the September 2013 stand-off in Zamboanga City between his followers and government troops that left 137 persons dead, 251 injured and 118,889 of the city’s 807,000 population displaced, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s October 2, 2013 report.

The Department of Justice,  the City of Zamboanga and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process made no object to Misuari’s motion to the court.

San Pedro said the Court “acknowledges that the matter of peace talks is exclusively within the realm of the Executive Department,” and that as manifested by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), it is a “top priority of the current administration.”

Misuari signed the December 23, 1976 Tripoli Agreement under the Marcos administration and the September 2, 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) under the Ramos administration.

The MNLF split into three factions — MNLF under Misuari, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) under Salamat Hashim and the MNLF Reformist Group under Dimas Pundato — after then President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., using his martial law powers, set up two autonomous regions – in Central and Western Mindanao – instead of one as agreed upon in the 1976 Tripoli pact.

The agreement provided for the creation of an autonomous region comprising 13 provinces and nine cities in Mindanao and Palawan; in Mindanao — Basilan, Davao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur – and Palawan and its Puerto Princesa City.

With the creation of new provinces and conversion of towns into cities, that autonomy area now comprises 16 provinces and 16 cities – 15 provinces and 15 cities of that out of Mindanao’s 27 provinces and 33 cities.

When Marcos was ousted and President Corazon Aquino took over, she went to Sulu to meet with Misuari and re-start the peace process. No peace agreement was forged but the 1987 Constitution under the Aquino administration provided for the creation of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras.

The “Final Peace Agreement” was finally forged under the Ramos administration, on September 2, 1996.

Running under the administration’s party, Misuari was elected governor of the ARMM a week later, on September 9, 1996. He served as Governor starting September 30 that year and was supposed to have ended his three-year term in March 1999 but stayed on on holdover capacity until November 2001 becasue Congress failed to pass the law that would have amended RA 6734, the Organic Act creating the ARMM, to incorporate provisions in the 1996 peace pact.

Congress reset the ARMM polls several times, and Misuari sat as ARMM Governor on holdover basis from March 1, 1999 until he was arrested off Sabah in November 2001, days  before the ARMM election, for alleged illegal entry, following a rebellion he allegedly led in Zamboanga City and Sulu. He has since called for the reclamation of Sabah.

Earlier, in April 2001, 15 top MNLF leaders stripped Misuari of the chairmanship of  the MNLF, set up the Executive Council to lead the MNLF  but made him Chairman Emeritus. Misuari called them traitors.

RA 9054, the law that amended RA 6734 and was supposed to have incorporated provisions of the 1996 FPA, lapsed into law in March 2001 under the Arroyo administration, even as the MNLF had opposed its passage as it would, according to them, render the ARMM even less autonomous than the ARMM under RA 6734.

Parouk Hussin, MNLF Foreign Affairs chief and one of  the members of the MNLF Executive Council, was elected ARMM Governor in November 2001.

In 2006, a decade after the signing of the FPA, a Tripartite Review among the government, MNLF and Organization of Islamic Cooperation which brokered the talks in the 1970s and 1990s, was launched to review the implementation of the FPA.

The first Tripartite meeting was held in Jeddah in November 2007 and subsequent reviews were done until January 2016, with 42 consensus points reached on provisions that would be amended in RA 9054.

Only three issues are to be resolved under the Duterte adminstration, according to Parcasio: the authority of a regional government to supervise and control strategic minerals; transitional mechanism and territory.

The other factions of the MNLF, led by Muslimin Sema of Maguindanao and now by Yusoph Jikiri, also of Sulu like Misuari, have agreed on incorporating the consensus points into the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will be drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) composed of representatives from the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The MILF signed with government the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) in October 2012 and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in March 2014.

In 2015 at the MILF’s Camp Darapanan, Maguindanao, the MILF and MNLF-Sema faction. signed a Joint Declaration that the provisions of the 1996 peace pact with teh MNLF be fully implemented and that the MNLF and MILF peace acgreements be converged.

The Duterte administration’s peace and development roadmap proposed by the OPAPP and approved by the President in July pushed for the expansion of the  BTC membership from 15 to 21 supposedly to get the MNLF factions into the drafting body that would craft a draft “converged” or “harmonized” law.

The BTC has three members from the MNLF under Sema-Jikiri.

In November, Dureza announced a separate peace implementing panel for Misuari’s MNLF faction. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)