July 7,2012: The formal start of the four-day MILF-sponsored “Moro Leaders’ Assembly” will kick-off today with a grand opening program in the sprawling administrative base of the MILF in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. Five hundred thousand to one mission people from all over Mindanao are expected to witness this historic event, which last happened on May 29-31, 2005.
The activity will end on July 9, after a press conference with MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim as the main speaker.
This morning activity will be highlighted by the messages of Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Ghazali Jaafar, the MILF first Vice Chairman, and Ali Pangalian, the MILF second Vice Chairman, Representatives of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Malaysian Facilitator, HE Dato’ Tengku Abd’ Ghaafar Tengku bin Mohamed, are also slated to deliver their messages but due to the delay in their arrival, they will deliver their speeches in the afternoon.
Several foreign dignitaries have accepted the invitation to grace the assembly. To date, the respective embassies in Manila of Japan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Turkey have committed to send their representatives. Indonesia and Libya are sending their respective deputy chief of mission.
As a show of support, the Aquino administration has sent Secretary Teresita “Ging” Deles-Quintos, government chief peace negotiator Dean Marvic Leonen, and Maj. General Bernardo Ardo, chief of the Army’s Sixth Infantry Division in Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao.
Also Cotabato City Mayor Jojo Guiani and Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema have committed to attend the gathering.
At least two Moro governors have expressed their intention to attend namely, Sulu Governor Abdulsakur Tan and Maguindanao Governor Toto Mangudadatu. Congressmen Pangalian Balindong, Jesus Sacdalan, and Bai Sandra Sema sent words that they are attending. Scores of Moro mayors in Mindanao have signified their intention to attend.
Also sure to arrive are members of the International Contact Group (ICG) and members of the International Monitoring Team (IMT).
A representative of the Geneva Call is also expected to arrive today from Manila. In addition, the town mayors of Aleosan, Mlang, and Tulunan, all in North Cotabato, all Christians, have committed to arrive.
However, Luwaran had confirmed that MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari will not attend the MILF conference, citing no reason for it.