Iqbal says 2 of 3 BIFF factions OK MILF’s peace overtures; most radical rejects

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 05 September) — A radical faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) Front has rejected overtures from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to respect the new peace deal.

Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace implementing panel, said they have sent a team to one of the BIFF factions under the command of Abu Turayfie but their overtures were flatly rejected.

“Turayfie did not even bother to meet our team. Their minds are closed,” Iqbal told MindaNews during the consultations on RA 110504 or the Organic Law for the Bangasamoro in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao here on Wednesday.

Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the peace implementing panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, is deep in thought during the consultation on RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao at the Luxe Hotel in Cagayan de Oro on Wednesday, Sept 5, 2018. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Turayfie heads the faction that the military and police say was responsible for the August 28 and September 2 bombings that left five persons dead and at least 40 others wounded in Isulan town, Sultan Kudarat province last week.

Iqbal said the BIFF is divided into three factions with Turayfie’s group as the most radical.

Ustadz Amiril Umra Kato, commander of the 105th Base Command of the MILF’s Bangsa  moro Islamic Armed Forces, broke away from the MILF and set up the BIFF in March 2010. He suffered a stroke in November 2011 and was paralyzed and died in April 2015.  Since he fell ill, the BIFF had broken into two and later three factions.

Iqbal said the MILF has sent emissaries to persuade other factions of the BIFF to give the new peace deal forged between the MILF and government a chance.

“The other BIFF factions are talking positively with us except for Turayfie,” Iqbal said.

The MILF has also sent emissaries to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction of Misuari. The MNLF faction under Yusoph Jikiri and Muslimin Sema joined the MILF in drafting the what was then Bangsamoro Basic Law. The law provides for the creation of a new autonomous political entity called the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

An MILF source privy to the peace talks said the emissaries to the other rebel groups are urging them to give the BARMM a chance to work.

“They are appealing to these rebel groups to give (it) at least five years,” the source said. (Froilan O. Gallardo / MindaNews)