Fugitive Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding Chair Nur Misuari is willing to meet and talk peace with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chair Al-Haji Murad Ebrahim on two conditions.
First, the meeting should be held outside the Philippines on the venue to be chosen by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) maybe in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Cairo (Egypt) or Jakarta (Indonesia).
Second, the government should suspend the warrant of arrest issued against him over the Zamboanga siege in September last year that killed 23 government troops and nine civilians, injured more than a hundred govt troops and displaced thousands of residents.
This new development was revealed yesterday by Habib Mujahab Hashim, who chairs the MNLF-Islamic Command Council (MNLF-ICC) faction.
“’Maas” (Misuari) is willing to attend the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) meeting provided it is conducted outside the Philippines,” he said.
“A meeting between Brother Nur and Brother Murad is vital to achieving peace in Mindanao,” Hashim noted saying without the imprimatur of the two Moro leaders the chance for the peace initiative to succeed is less because their subordinates do not have authorities to accept or reject any agreement that may come up.
Hashim said Misuari and Ebrahim approved the formation of the BCF.
The two muslim leaders met at the sidelines of the OIC’s 37th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (OIC-CFM) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in May 2010 where they agreed to form the BCF so the MNLF and MILF can work in coordination for the Bangsamoro people’s peace and economic uplift.
In their meeting, Misuari and Ebrahim agreed that “unity is indispensable to the success of the Bangsamoro struggle,” at the same time acknowledging that the MNLF and the MILF have no basic differences, because both groups are striving for peace, justice and a fair solution to the Bangsamoro people’s problems.
Misuari opposed the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro claiming it was tantamount to the abrogation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) forged in Indonesia after nearly four years of negotiations with the government. This prompted Misuari to declare on August 12, 2013 the “independence” of Mindanao, Palawan, and Sabah that resulted in the Zamboanga siege when the MNLF-Misuari faction tried to raise the Bangsamoro Republik flag at Zamboanga City Hall.
Misuari’s change of heart was conveyed to Hashim by Ustadhz Abdulbaqi Abubakar, one of the widely respected MNLF leaders. Abdulbaqi is scheduled to leave Monday for Jeddah apparently to consult with the OIC leadership.
However, a highly reliable source of the Manila Bulletin yesterday revealed that OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani is sending a special envoy to Manila in October to convene a meeting of the BCF between the MNLF and the MILF.
The source said Ambassador Sayed Kaseem El-Masry is expected to convene the meeting after the Eid’l Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) in the first week of October.
Misuari reportedly welcomed the OIC move.
The MNLF has four factions – the MNLF-Misuari, MNLF-Muslimin Sema, MNLF-ICC (which has three splinter groups of Hashim, Melham Alam, and Energy Undersecretary Matanog Mapandi), and MNLF-Abul Khayr Alonto.
Hashim appealed to the OIC to convene the BCF meeting outside the Philippines, “because we do not want to be misinterpreted by our supporters here and abroad as supporting the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) of the MILF.”
“If the MILF succeeds, well and good. If they fail, that is there own lookout,” said Hashim.
At the Senate, 13 senators including four members of the Senate minority bloc, signed as co-authors of the Bangsamoro Basic Law bill which Senate President Franklin Drilon said will help expedite the passage of the measure which is a crucial instrument of peace and progress in Mindanao.
We have filed (Sept. 15) the Bangsamoro Basic Law. It has the support of the majority of the senators. Thirteen senators signed as co-authors. There is a bipartisan support. What is significant is the four members of the minority group in the Senate led by acting minority leader Sen. Vicente Sotto III signed as co-authors,” Drilon told reporters in an interview.
The bill would be referred to the Senate Committees on Local Government and Peace, Unification and Ratification chaired by Senators Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr and Guingona, respectively.
Marcos has earlier said the joint committees has invited the government negotiating panel, members of the Transition Committee and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to a briefing on September 23, so they can thresh out the issues and circumstances concerning the BBL.
We cannot afford to err on this most-sought piece of legislation. Our people won’t forgive us if we fail to pass it on time,” Drilon said.
“It is therefore incumbent upon us to make sure that the efforts exerted by both panels will not be put in vain, by ensuring that the BBL we will debate upon will be in accordance with the Constitution and can withstand judicial scrutiny,” he stressed.
The initial list of resource persons invited to the meeting include Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chief government negotiator; Mohaguer Iqbal, chairman, Bangsamoro Transition Commission; Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process; Ghazali Jaafar, Moro Islamic Liberation Front vice chairman for political affairs; Atty. Mike Mastura, chairman, Advocacy Committee of MILF Negotiating Panel; and Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.