MILF panel’s Mastura gives copies of his new book to GPH panel members

MASTURA'S BOOK. Datu Michael Mastura, senior member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panel, shows his book, "Bangsamoro Quest: The Birth of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front" shortly before entering the venue for the peace negotiations with the Philippine government at the Palace of the Golden Horses hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Monday. The book, published in Penang,  will be launched at the Universiti Sains Malaysia there on May 31. MindaNews photo by Carolyn O. ArguillasKUALA LUMPUR (MindaNew/28 May) —   Datu Michael Mastura, senior panel member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) gave copies of his new book,  “Bangsamoro Quest: The Birth of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front,”  to members of the government peace panel shortly before they took a break from their executive session Monday morning.

The 243-page book, divided into 21 chapters in six parts and done in a Q and A format,  was published by the Penang-based Southeast Asian Conflict Studies Network (SEACSN) and Research and Education for Peace (REPUSM)  and  will be formally launched at the Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang on May 31.

This is the second book written by an MILF peace panel member in five years. In 2007,  the Cotabato City-based Institute of  Bangsamoro Studies published “The Long Road to Peace: Inside the GRP-MILF Peace Process” by MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, writing as Salah Jubair,  his pen name.

Iqbal took over as MILF peace panel chair in July 2003, shortly after MILF chair Salamat Hashim passed away and then vice chair and peace panel chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, took over Hashim’s post.  Iqbal’s first book, also as Jubair, was “A Nation Under Endless Tyranny,”  which has had two editions since its first publication in Pakistan in 1982.

“This is also a continuation of that book,”  Mastura told MindaNews as he pointed to a photograph in “Bangsamoro Quest,”   showing him pointing to the phrase “to end tyranny”  at the  base of the flagpole of the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC in 2004.

MASTURA'S BOOK. "Bangsamoro Quest: The Birth of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front" written by Datu Michael Mastura, senior member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panel,  is the second book written by an MILF peace panel member in five years.  Published in Penang,  the book will be launched at the Universiti Sains Malaysia there on May 31. MindaNews photo by Carolyn O. ArguillasIn their foreword, Dr. Kamarulzaman Askandar and Ayesah Abubakar described “Bangsamoro Quest” as a “very important book written by a very important figure in the long history of the Bangsamoro struggle.”

The foreword noted that the book “asks many questions and reveals many things about this struggle from the perspective of one who has been involved as an insider, and is still very much in there as an original and current member”  of the MILF peace panel.

“This book discusses the core questions behind the struggle of a liberation movement in an identity-based self-determination type conflict. Why it started; what is the philosophy behind the struggle; who have been involved; what is the current situation; and where it is heading,” it said.

The foreword writers said the book’s title is “perfect because it reflects a journey or a struggle of a people in search of a destination” and also focuses on the MILF “as the vehicle that drives this struggle for the people.”

“If liberation is both the end and the process, then the MILF is the movement that moves this process,” the foreword added.

The book also gives some insights on the peace process, including the current talks being facilitated by Malaysia,  although in the Prologue, Mastura said his inside account “traces events related to the negotiation from 23 February 1997 to 3 June 2010.”

Mastura said the book is a “distillation of forty years of the author’s combined experience in government and political activism.”

He said primary sources and repositories are accessed “to allow a Bangsamoro narrative in which at first the Muslim national aspiration became a backdrop for the central role that the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) originally played in defining and pursuing that national aspiration .”

“The Moro factor in the Philippine independence first appeared as a Question, then got defined as a Problem during the ‘Filipinization’ era. “

MASTURA'S BOOK. Government peace panel chair Marvic Leonen flips through the pages of "Bangsamoro Quest: The Birth of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front" written by Datu Michael Mastura, senior member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panel. Leonen and his panel members were given copies of the book inside the negotiations venue at the Palace of the Golden Horses hotel in Kuala Lumpur Monday morning. MindaNews photo by Carolyn O. ArguillasMastura ends his prologue by saying that the Bangsamoro Quest is “a birthing of new arrangements under which a substate can deal with questions of  ‘subsidiarity’ and special interest to themselves more effectively than Congress and the Presidency at present. “

Mastura represented the 1st district of Maguindanao in Congress from 1987 to 1995. He was elected delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention that drafted the 1973 Constitution.  He is currently President of the Sultan Kudarat Islamic Academy Foundation, Inc.

The book’s cover is an image of the “Luwaran”  (code of  laws) of the Maguindanao Sultanate and a 1776 map of mainland Mindanao by Capt. Thomas Forrest. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

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