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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gov’t ditched MNLF – Nur

by Edd K. Usman
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Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding Chairman Nur P. Misuari has conveyed a message to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in effect, accusing the Government of the Philippines (GPH) of abandoning the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA).
The FPA, signed on Sept. 2, 1996 during the term of then President Fidel V. Ramos, is the implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, dubbed the “mother of all peace accords” with Moro groups.
Misuari sent his message to the OIC through Ambassador Sayed Kaseem El-Masry, the special envoy for peace for Southern Philippines when he visited the Philippines on October 11.
In an interview with Manila Bulletin on Sunday, Randolph Parcasio, MNLF legal counsel, said the MNLF leader asked him to convey a confidential message to El-Masry at the sidelines of the October 13-14 meeting in Makati City between the MNLF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
But he disclosed part of the message of the now-fugitive Moro leader. Misuari is being hunted down by the Philippine National Police (PNP) on the strength of a warrant of arrest to face a court case for the September 2013 fighting in Zamboanga City.
He said Misuari asked him to tell El-Masry “about the non-implementation of the peace agreement which, in effect, it is like the government abandoning the peace agreement.”
The MNLF chief, as quoted by Parcasio, said the “abandonment” happened when GPH entered into agreements with the MILF, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed on March 27 this year.
It could be recalled that Misuari and his allies had already assailed the earlier GPH-MILF’s Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed on October 15, 2012 as violative of the MNLF peace accord.
On the other hand, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) had stressed much earlier that the FAB did not abrogate the FPA.
And when reached on Sunday, Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, GPH chief negotiator with the MILF, said: “The FPA has been substantially implemented from 1996 to 2004 when MNLF leaders became the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) governors. All the remaining autonomy concerns have been incorporated in the CAB and the Bangsamoro bill now in Congress.”
She reiterated GPH’s call on the MNLF political leaders to joins hands in the task of building peace and development in Mindanao.
Coronel-Ferrer emphasized that the “process is not about one person or one group alone but for everyone.”
Parcasio declined to discuss the other part of Misuari’s message. He did not say if El-Masry, the special envoy of OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani, made any comment.
As this developed, Parcasio, one of the closest allies of Misuari, revealed that MNLF leaders are divided on their views on the CAB, the final peace accord between GPH and MILF.
“Among a lot of members of the MNLF there are two divergent views. First view is to reconcile the CAB and the Tripoli Agreement/FPA; the other view is that when (GPH) entered into (the) CAB with the MILF, they (GPH) have abandoned the peace agreement and, therefore, there is breach of agreement. If there is breach of agreement, there is no more peace agreement,” said Parcasio of the MNLF leaders’ views.
Apparently, he was referring to the MNLF leaders who belong to the separate groups of Misuari and former Cotabato City mayor Muslimin G. Sema, who chairs another MNLF faction.
While Misuari has consistently hit the GPH-MILF peace process, Sema and his group supports the reconciling or harmonizing of the MNLF and MILF peace agreements.
Parcasion told the Manila Bulletin that the problem with reconciling or harmonizing the agreements is that the tripartite review of the FPA was to propose a law to amend Republic Act No. 9054 to implement the FPA provisions still to be complied with.
“But the GPH had already submitted to Congress the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” he said, referring to the BBL to flesh out the envisioned Bangsamoro new political entity replacing the ARMM.
He said the problem has to be resolved “in the best of our capacity or ability” using the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) of the MNLF and MILF.
“So government has to do all it can to convince the MNLF that it will still implement the 1996 FPA, otherwise, that is it, as if the FPA is rescinded,” said Parcasio.
Through the BCF, particularly its Terms of Reference (TOR) signed by the two Moro Fronts on October 14, there was a chance to discuss the problem intelligently in the spirit of “ijtihad” (independent reasoning) among MNLF leaders, and then the MNLF and the MILF leaders, and the Bangsamoro as a whole, meaning all the stakeholders.
El-Masry and his delegation came to Manila on a mission to get the MNLF and the MILF to formally activate and operationalize the BCF as a vehicle for their working together to achieve the aspiration of the Bangsamoro people for a “just political solution, lasting peace, and inclusive development.”
The OIC official described the meeting as “really constructive and successful” that launched the BCF.
Parcasio for the MNLF and Mohagher Iqbal for the MILF, signed the BCF’s TOR.
“I think this is a success, thanks to God, it’s a complete success in a very short time. I thought it will take more than a few days, but it took a day and a half,” he said happily.
One of the functions of the BCF is to find common grounds between the MNLF and MILF peace accords and harmonize them.
In all through the meeting, also present was Egypt Ambassador Mahmoud Mostafa, who chairs the OIC-Peace Committee for Southern Philippines (PCSP).

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