(IN PHOTO) -MILF 1st Vice Chairman and Concurrent Chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission(BTC) Ghazali Jaafar is being interviewed by a foreign journalist in his satellite Office in Sultan, Kudarat, Maguindanao

BTC Chair Jaafar holds Presscon with Foreign Media

“There’s no presence of an ISIS terrorists group here in Mindanao”. This was disclosed by Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Chair and 1st Vice Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Central Committee (MILF-CC) Ghadzali Jaafar during a Press Conference with Foreign Media on Mindanao Peace Process (Saturday) held at Sultan, Kudarat, Maguindanao on September 22, 2017.

He further clarified that what has transpired here is that, “The existence of the BIFF and the Maute group who are fighting against the government forces in Maguindanao and Marawi City was the result of big frustration. They highly expected the commitment of the previous administration to implement the signed negotiated political settlement of the Bangsamoro issue in Mindanao.”

“Actually the BIFF and the Maute group were former members of the MILF but they separated due to their frustrations and dissatisfaction to the uncertainty of the ongoing peace process. Probably, the government and the MILF peace process is the longest in the history of the peace process in the world. That’s the reasons why they separated and continued in fighting against the government”, Jaafar told the foreign journalists. 

The BIFF and the Maute group were never been a bandits or terrorists in the Bangsamoro Homeland. They remained in fighting for a cause and principle to establish a self-rule government.  The reported displaying of ISIS flag is may be a part of their propaganda to get public attention and begging for support from the ISIS founder. But definitely, We are not amenable to their principles in fighting without adherence to the rules of engagement as provided for under the Geneva Convention, Jaafar further said.

Question asked by the Media:  In what alternative solution of the MILF-CC to neutralize the continued existence of the BIFF and Maute and other armed groups in Mindanao?

There’s no other way or alternative solution to neutralize the BIFF and the Maute group, except, to sign a strong BBL that could address the Bangsamoro Issue in Mindanao, Jaafar replied.

Precisely the Bangsamoro Government would be established:   What assurance in your part as the BTC Chair that the BIFF and Maute would sympathize in the Bangsamoro Government? 

Jaafar replied and said: I had mentioned earlier, the BIFF and Maute groups were former members of the MILF.  Though they have separated from the MILF, we have one common objective which is to establish a Bangsamoro Government for Self-determination. Therefore, once they saw and observed the strong BBL passed by the 17th Congress, there’s no reason for them not to join in the Bangsamoro Government. 

With the concerted efforts of the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) in facilitating the Press Conference by at least 14 Foreign Media Correspondents, said conference successfully ended. 

Jaafar expressed his thanks and gratitude to the organizers and to the following media entities: Nash Maulana, PPI and Manila Standard Correspondent; Arlene Burgos, ABC-CBN News; Steven Chang, CNN; Liz Dan, East West Center; Siba Al, Newsday ; Shackir R, Kuwait Times; Liza R, East West Center; Jane Namon, ABS-CBN News; Usman Kansung, Media Indonesia, Jakarta; Shoeb Khan, Tunes of India; Municken Oyewode, Daily Trust Newspaper; Joseph Neff, The News Observer, USA; Arlel Sebenido, PPI, Executive Director; and Brian Sayawam, Star Media Malaysia. 

Chairman Jaafar had explained briefly during the Presscon the basic information with relevant issues on Mindanao Peace Process.  Such as; the historical relevance of the Bangsamoro Struggle as an independent Sultanate State before the coming of the Spaniards in March 1521. The historical background of the Bangsamoro Struggle, the hardships and sacrifices of the Bangsamoro in the hands of the foreign invaders; the Spaniards and the United States of America, for barely 500 years as of now, including the Philippine Colonial government, 

Pardon me for telling this, “The Bangsamoro people was never been conquered by the Spaniards, and even the Americans. The Philippine government who initiated a peace talks with the MILF and invited the MILF to have a peace talks, we accepted it. Because the late Amerul Mujahideen and founding Chairman of the MILF, Sheik Salamat Hashim (Allaho Yarhamo) firmly believed and emphasized, “The best alternative solution to attain a dignified and lasting peace in Mindanao is through a democratic process.”   That’s why we are exerting all our efforts to resolve the Bangsamoro Issue through a peace process.  

Jaafar reiterated the main objectives of the peace process in Mindanao as well as the salient points of the BBL wherein the Bangsamoro people are expecting the full support of President Rodrigo Duterte and the 17th Congress to pass the BBL into law. He reiterated further that the ongoing peace process under the Duterte administration may pave way for a just, dignified and lasting peace in Mindanao.