June 10, 2012 News: Two-time governor of Sulu and one-time congressman, Abdulsakur Tan, incumbent governor of Sulu, has declared to media recently that he is running for the governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). His son, who was not identified in the report, would run in his place as governor of Sulu.
Tan, admittedly unbeatable by his political opponents, joined, together with four other governors of the provinces in the ARMM, the Philippine government delegation to the 28th GPH-MILF Exploratory Talks to Kuala Lumpur last May 29-31.
The other four governors were Toto Mangudadatu of Maguindanao, Jum Akbar of Basilan, Sadikul Sahali of Tawi-Tawi, and Mamintal Adiong Jr. of Lanao del Sur.
At the sideline of the talks, while the GPH delegation was watching the impeachment proceeding versus Chief Justice Renato Corona, the MILF peace panel and the five governors had frank and brotherly exchanges of views at one of the function rooms of the Four Horses Hotel.
June 10. 2012 News: Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace panel, explained to the governors that the MILF had long sought to hold dialogue with them but there are constraints because they (governors) have two personalities, a local government executive and as Muslim or Moro.
“We cannot talk to you as governors because that is the responsibility of our counterpart in government, but only as Muslims or Moros,” he explained.
He also explained that the MILF’s objectives in the current negotiation are for the interests of the entire Bangsamoro people and not of the MILF or its leaders.
MILF panel members, Bobby Alonto and Abdulla Camlian, patiently explained why the MNLF and MILF used the moniker, Moro, both as national identity and names of the two organizations.
For his part, Atty. Datu Michael Mastura explained to the governors the salient features of the MILF proposal in the current peace talks especially the ministerial system of government, which the two parties have already agreed and to be put in place of the ARMM once the peace pact is signed.
Tan and the four other governors told the MILF frankly that they are for peace in Mindanao and they are behind the peace initiatives of President Benigno Aquino III particularly the peace talks with the MILF.
After more than an hour of heart-to-heart talk, Iqbal thanked the governors, especially Tan, for responding positively to the invitation to talk as brothers-in-Islam. He also thanked GPH peace panel chair, Marvic Leonen, and the Malaysian Facilittor, Dato Tengku Ab’ Ghafar Tengku bin Mohamed for facilitating the meeting.