ARMM an arm of Malacanang; MILF ways to options

ARMM an arm of Malacanang; MILF ways to options

September 4, 2011 – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) could not accept as political solution to the struggle of the Bangsamoro people to regain self-governance is not autonomous but an administrative region of the Malacanang Palace.

“Sorry to say but the present ARMM is but an arm of Malacanang and not a government of the Bangasmoro people,” said Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) when interviewed by ABS-CBN stalwart Korina Sanchez at Camp Darapanan last September 1, 2011.

There is no real self-governance in ARMM and it cannot stand without the support and influence of Malacanang, Chairman Murad said.

ARMM is a constitutional body inaugurated in 1991 and now presently composed of the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Basilan, and the City of Marawi.

More than 20 years now since the creation of this government unilaterally-created ARMM but “everybody knows that it only become a milking cow of the politicians and technocrats,” the Chairman said.

“The politicians became rich but the benefits did not trickle down to our people,” he added.

Murad expressed conviction that autonomous government should not be called Muslim autonomy for it is not an exclusive domain of the Muslims. “Bangsamoro government must be inclusive of all the peoples both the native inhabitants, including the Bansgamoro, and the settlers.”

A sub-state for the Bangsamoro, which in essence is also an autonomous political entity, and not the present ARMM, according to the Chairman, is acceptable to the Bangsamoro people as a political solution to the Bangsamoro struggle for self-governance and self-determination.

The MILF submitted to the government through the Malaysian third party Facilitator its proposal for a comprehensive peace compact which is essentially political in nature reduced in the form of a sub-state in February this year.

The core territory of the MILF proposal, without going through a plebiscite, is the present areas of ARMM. Those areas outside of but contiguous to ARMM, whose respective votes won in plebiscite but could not be made part of the areas of the present ARMM as the votes of the provinces these areas belong voted against inclusion in the territories of the ARMM, are also included.

At one hand, the government submitted its so-called “3 in 1 Proposal” during the last talks in Malaysia on August 22-24, 2011.

The supposed three-day talks was cut short to two days with the “3 in 1 Proposal” of the Government of the Philippines left deferred for discussion pending referral of the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel to the MILF Central Committee in Camp Darapanan.

Chairman Murad confirmed the recommendation of the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel headed by Mohagher Iqbal to MILF Central Committee to reject the Government Proposal , citing reason that the proposal of the government as detached, had no connections and derogated the past agreements and consensus reached by the two parties during the past 14 years of negotiations. “This will clearly prolong further the peace process contrary to what have been agreed in Tokyo,” he said.

The 3 in1 proposal of the government had outlined for (1) strengthening of the delivery of basic services and implementation of large-scale and massive development; (2) political settlement with reference to the present Autonomous Region In Muslim Mindanao (ARMM); and (3) acknowledgment of the correct historical and cultural identity of the Bangsamoro people.

When asked of the bottom line and deadline of MILF on the negotiations, Murad answered “if the government is really sincere then she has to address the root cause of the problem, which is not poverty, absence of peace or ceasefire, but political (self-governance and self-determination).”

“As revolutionary organization, we do not set deadline. But we will see how the government will approach the present situation on the peace talks. If it is still progressing and moving forward towards the real solution then we have no other options but to continue on with the negotiations. But if see it not moving forward then we can’t just sit down on it if it is progressing.”

“While it is a matter of principle and an established policy of MILF to go for negotiations being the most civilize and practical means of resolving the Bangamoro Question, but our struggle is only political and military,” he said.

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MILF: No continuity in gov’t proposal

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12:29 am | Monday, September 5th, 2011
 1share21 14

DAVAO City—The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is insisting that a political settlement with the government must be built on what has been achieved in the negotiating table the past 14 years.

MILF chief Murad Ebrahim, in a post on the group’s website, made the assertion in relation to the government’s proposal which essentially builds on institutional reforms of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and progress towards including other “doable” self-governance aspirations of the Moro people.

He described the government proposal as “detached from what the two parties had (earlier) agreed upon.”

“What is the use of the more than 14 years of negotiations between the government and MILF if we are to start again from zero?” Murad asked.

Murad said the MILF peace panel had recommended to its central committee that the government proposal be rejected but added that the rebel group has not yet made a collective decision on the matter.

Moving forward

“Even if we reject the proposal, the government can still make another proposal… We are confident that the government realizes that this is the best way to move forward (with) the peace process,” he said.

Murad said the recommendation of its peace panel is based on its assessment that the government proposal “had no connections with the previous agreements and consensus reached… during the past 14 years of the peace process.”

Murad explained that by seemingly starting all over again, the process of negotiations would be prolonged instead of hastened.

Continuity of the past consensus, he said, is premised on the idea that the negotiations “is between the MILF and the government and not between personalities or particular administration.”

“We are negotiating with the government of the Philippines. Whatever were agreed upon by the two parties are binding to the MILF and the government,” Murad pointed out.

“We cannot allow that when there is a new administration then we will start again from scratch,” he added.

Earlier, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal explained that based on the Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001, the MILF and the government have to build a consensus on the three issues of security, rehabilitation of war-torn areas, and ancestral domain before crafting a comprehensive compact.

As such, Iqbal said, the process is “incremental.”

A ceasefire regime has been in place since 1997 while a development arm has been in operation for some five years to take care of postwar reconstruction.

In the case of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2008, the parties have agreed in July 2009 to “reframe the consensus points” towards drafting the peace agreement.

This left the parties with no more issues to settle. Crafting a comprehensive compact is the only substantive agenda left in the negotiating table.

The rebel leader also dispelled persistent reports its peace negotiations with the government is breaking down because of the supposedly “heaven and earth” distance between the parties’ proposed political settlement.

“The negotiation is still on. There is no declaration by either party that the talks had already collapsed, and (so) it will continue,” Murad said.

During the August 22 exploratory talks in Kuala Lumpur between the parties’ respective peace panels, the government presented its proposal for an enhanced ARMM as a starting point for a political settlement to end the so-called Moro question in Mindanao.

Murad also clarified that the rebel group “did not reject the government proposal.”

Substate

“…It was not discussed because after a careful look on it by our peace panel during the last meeting in Malaysia, they saw no points of discussion,” he explained.

The MILF has proposed the creation of a Moro substate within the context of the Philippine republic. It envisioned this as a special region with more powers than that enjoyed by the ARMM but would have the latter’s administrative territory as the core self-governance area.

Murad said succumbing to the offer of enhanced autonomy through ARMM is a step towards “integration to the unitary political set-up of the Government of the Philippines.”

“Integration is opposite the aspiration of the Bangsamoro people for self-determination and self-governance. Integration coupled with massive development will not solve the problem,” he added.

Murad stressed that the MILF would not sign an agreement that would not solve the Bangsamoro aspiration for self-governance and right to self-determination because this is “what’s acceptable to our people.”

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