Peace talks with MILF

Published : Tuesday, September 06, 2011 00:00

Written by : AL JACINTO CORRESPONDENT
 
 

Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman Murad Ibrahim is escorted by rebels to a press conference inside their base in Camp Darapan, Sultan Kudarat province on Monday. AFP PHOTO

 

 

 

No sub-state, no deal – Ibrahim

ZAMBOANGA CITY: THE MORO Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said Monday it will not sign a peace agreement with the Aquino government unless its demand for a sub-state in Mindanao is granted.
Peace negotiations between Manila and the MILF ended in Malaysia on August 24 without any agreement that would put an end to decades of bloody fighting in Mindanao. The MILF, which is fighting for self-rule, said it will pursue a sub-state in the mineral-rich but restive region in the southern Philippines.

“The MILF will not sign an agreement that will not solve the problem because even if we signed an agreement that is beneficial to us, but not acceptable to our people, then the struggle will go on. We are nothing if the Bangsamoro people will not support us,” MILF leader Murad Ibrahim said. “In our continuing massive consultations, a sub-state for the Bangsamoro people as a political settlement of the Bangsamoro struggle to regain self-governance and right to self-determination is acceptable to our people as an alternative to independence,” he added.

Ebrahim said his negotiators will not meet their government counterparts next week as planned because the two sides’ positions were too far apart.

“With this situation we feel that there is no point of discussion between the two panels,” Murad told reporters at Camp Darapanan, the MILF’s headquarters on the outskirts of Cotabato city.

Murad said the MILF will instead ask the Malaysian facilitator of the talks to meet separately with both sides in an effort to have the government alter its peace plan, which he described as an “exercise in futility”.

Government peace negotiators headed by Marvic Leonen offered an expanded autonomy in Mindanao which the MILF flatly rejected.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd earlier said the MILF’s demand for a sub-state cannot be granted because the Constitution only allows autonomy.

The MILF said the government offer was below their expectations and does not differ from the proposals of previous administrations.

Murad said the government proposal was not comprehensive, only a framework for the integration of the Muslims into the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao which comprises the provinces of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Maguindanao and Lanao.

“Integration is opposite to the aspiration of the Bangsamoro people for self-determination and self-governance. Integration coupled with massive development will not solve the problem. If the (peace) agreement is not reflective of the real aspiration of the Bangsamoro people, then it is an exercise in futility,” Ibrahim said.

Mohagher Iqbal, chief MILF peace negotiator, said the government proposal will not solve the problems in Mindanao.

“The government draft is not solving the Moro question and the armed conflict in Mindanao, but it is a formula to prolong it,” Iqbal said. “The government peace panel’s draft is way below the MILF expectation. The MILF peace panel thought that the Aquino administration had a better formula than the previous administrations in addressing the Moro question and armed conflict in Mindanao.”

“The unbridled domination of the Philippine government over the Moros through the unitary setup of government is not only maintained but reenergized and practically, the draft derogated all signed agreements or documents including the historic Tripoli Agreement of Peace of 2001,” Iqbal said, adding the government proposal has “no meeting point” with the MILF peace draft.

Leonen said the government proposal which he called a “3 for 1” approach was different from the MILF’s comprehensive compact. He said “3 for 1” stands for three components for one single solution to the problem of Bangsamoro.

He said the “3 for 1” proposal was the result of the government peace panel’s extensive consultations with different stakeholders in the peace process.

“It seeks not only to provide a just and lasting peace to the troubled south but more so to improve and uplift the lives of the people who have long suffered from the brutality of decades-long armed conflict. It is a principled, realistic and practical proposal,” Leonen said at the closing ceremony of the peace talks in Kuala Lumpur.

‘ He explained that heir proposal include massive economic development, political settlement with the MILF, and cultural-historical acknowledgment.

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1 Comment

  1. The results and negotiation process between the Philippines Government with the MILF have been very easy to be indicated, namely that the ultimate outcome of these negotiations is the Aquino government will not going to give what is called by the MILF as a Sub-State, not only due to the constitutional reasons which is only gives the authority to establish autonomous region, but what was MILF dreams has been canceled by the Constitution of the Republic of Filipine.

    As I said before, that what they are doing now, between the Filipine Government and the MILF is an attempt to soften the hearts (cooling down) of the MILF and confronting the MILF with its parent movement the MNLF. If Murad accept the Philippines Government proposal as set out in the conceptual framework of the 3-in-one, then it implies that the Government has succeeded in eliminating the MNLF or MILF vice versa, and the result is the weakening of the spirit of Muslim Mindanao fighting.

    In my opinion, just to gain autonomy (ARMM) or sub-state which is now championed by the MILF shall no need for long term conflict and armed struggle that took the lives of so many and haunt the Mindanao Islamic Ummah itself. The truth was an exhausting struggle for independence Country as the target. The question is if the independence Country for Muslims in the south, exactly where?. Is in the ARMM area?, While the Muslim population in Mindanao spread throughout the Islands?. The same question can be asked to proposed Sub State.

    but what is really desired by the Muslims in Mindanao?. Of course they only want a sustainable peace that based on togetherness, the equitable attention in aspect of lives, wherever they are in Republic of Philippines or in the Autonomous Region, Sub-state and any name. If not then any time the battle and negotiations continuously with no positive result, and this will be a futile struggle as usual.

    The best solution is “reunited” between MNLF and the MILF, remove the personal rivalry between the leaderships and try to include Muslims in determining their needs actively.

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