By Nash Acan
July 10,2012: “The Will of the people has spoken” a statement told by MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim Al-Hadj to some 100 , foreign and local, media personalities who attended the press conference yesterday held at Camp Darapanan, Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, the last of the 4-day Bangsamoro Leaders’ Assembly.
The media were given a chance to talk to the chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with regards to what transpired in the Assembly. Former Bayan Muna Party-list Representative Satur Ocampo, also came as journalist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
The Bangsamoro Assembly was held to engage frankly and brotherly all moro leaders, traditional or political, fronts, and stakeholders of Mindanao for a dialogue and thereby arrive a unified stand for the welfare of the Bangsamoro in the Southern Philippines, especially that the peace negotiation is nearly coming to an end, according to Al-hadj Murad.
“The MILF is negotiating with the Philippine Government not for the interest of the organization (MILF) but for the entire Bangsamoro people, thus all must be involved as it (negotiation) is now at its bottom line that another compromise is of no avail anymore. We can not hold any longer our people to wait an endless talk with the government. Everything has an ending, the negotiation has been prolonged to 40 years accounting it from 1975 from the MNLF until now but the problem has not been addressed. If political struggle is exhausted, arm struggle may have been the other way,” the chairman stressed out.
“We are not campaigning for federal form of government but a sub-state state. Genuine self governance, not the ARMM for it could not be a solution to the problem of the Bangsamoro. At the very outset, we do not recognize the ARMM as it has no power, much more no peoples’ empowerment. The Philippine government is very centralized,” Ebrahim underscored during the press conference.
On the status of the negotiation, only the 10-point declaration of principle is done. This, among others, pertains to a road map of the negotiation, wealth sharing, and power sharing. The negotiation is now in its critical stage.
We hope President Aquino shall fulfill his commitment to conclude the peace negotiation in the tenure of his administration as only 3 years more for him to do it.
Ebrahim continued that in negotiation, compromise is indispensable. The MILF has offered many compromises already. From independent to now a Sub-state state claims. On the other hand the government offers fallative solution, no substantive compromise. So until and unless the aspiration of the Bangsamoro is addressed, the struggle will go on.
Speaking of transition period should there be an agreement reached, Ebrahim said that anything can happen. The transition mechanism is really significant so that other things could be done. We have nothing to do with regards to the election as it is purely on the side of the Philippine government. The burden is on their side to see to it that ARMM election will not pose problem to any forged truce, he continued. With the MNLF-MILF unification issue, in 2003 we met in Kuala Lumpur, Malasia to have a solidarity conference. There had been an effort exerted by the MILF under the facilitation of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) but sad to say that it failed when Chairman Nur Misuari disowned the 15-man council of the MNLF while the talk was in its midway. In May of 2010, the OIC initiated a meeting in Saudi Arabia wherein 5 series of meetings took place but really Nur is not quiet keen on the agreement, Ebarahim narrated.
With regards to Ombra Kato, he (Kato) waged rebellion because he was upset by the non compliance of the Philippine government on the MOA-AD. Thus I believe he will not be an hindrance should there be an agreement reached, Ebrahim said.
Approximately a million people, both negotiating panels, the International Contact Group (ICG), International Monitoring Team (IMT), the agencies of the United Nation (UN) operating here in Mindanao, Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), and some other international personalities were present in the assembly.