Biwang Province initiates move to strengthen MNLF-MILF unity

The Provincial Committees of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) of Biwang Province initiated a local MNLF-MILF unification mechanism aimed at strengthening unity among the Bangsamoro people towards attaining the realization of the Bangsamoro’s goal for self-determination.

The initiative was the creation of the Bangsamoro Biwang Unified Coordinating Council (BBUCC) that was inaugurated on Saturday (Jan 6) at Barangay Malisbong, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat Province and was witnessed by more than 1,600 Bangsamoro people including the Indigenous Peoples.  

Key convener and MILF Biwang Provincial Political Committee Chairman Kingboy Bayang said, “This move also aims to facilitate resolution to any internal and external problems within the Bangsamoro people in our locality.”

Stressing the importance of unification among the Bangsamoro people in advancing the peace process, Bayang pointed out, “This unity is a manifestation of our temporary victory.”

“How can we achieve a bigger victory if we cannot achieve a smaller one?” he asked.

The activity gathered prominent officials of the two Moro Fronts. Among the key personalities present in the event were Mohager Iqbal, MILF Committee of Information Chair and concurrently the Chairman of the MILF Implementing Panel and Datu Muslimin Sema, Chairman of MNLF Bangsamoro People’s National Congress, also graced the event.

“This initiative should be supported by our leaders and be replicated in other provinces for it strengthen unity of our two Bangsamoro Fronts,” Sema, former Mayor of Cotabaot City, stressed.

Datu Romeo K. Sema, MNLF Vice Chairman for Political Affairs, related the highlights of the creation of the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF), a unity agreement signed by the MNLF and MILF.

He said the two Fronts agreed in 1999 to push with the peace process as a peaceful resolve for the Bangsamoro problem. “It was the OIC which provided a venue for the MNLF and MILF to establish the BCF,” he said.

“After the CAB was signed and the tripartite review was made, Chairman Murad and (Muslimin) Sema talked and made unity declaration in November 2015 that there will be one implementation of the peace agreements,” he added.

Romeo Sema said the new administration push for inclusivity which also reconciles with the OIC recommendation. 

“The MNLF has been part of the new BTC to integrate some provisions of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL),” he related further and added “This is good so that the Philippine government will not say we are divided.” 

Iqbal narrated how the struggle started under the MNLF and noted that the peace agreements signed with the government are not problems.

“Those provisions of 1996 FPA that were not implemented was integrated to the enhanced BBL that is now in Congress,” he said.

“President Duterte respects both the MNLF and the MILF and he acknowledges the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people,” he pointed out.

Iqbal further said that the President believes that if the injustices will not be resolved, conflict shall prevail.

He stressed the need for the Bangsamoro leaders and its people to work hard for the development of the homeland. 

“Look at our places, we are lagged behind in terms of development and we cannot simply blame others but ourselves as well. Let us ask ourselves why we are like this,” he said.

The MILF Implementing Panel Chair said the GPH-MILF peace accord is in the implementation stage. “The CAB is the political solution which states that the Bangsamoro people should be given with real autonomy,” he explained.

Iqbal also mentioned the tracks of the peace agreement implementation that included the security related measures, decommissioning of the Bangsamoro armed forces and the passage of the BBL which is the sole responsibility of the Philippine government.

He also cited that the creation of new autonomous Bangsamoro political entity should hurdle ‘check points’.

These checkpoints include the Philippine legislature, the plebiscite and the Supreme Court. 

The CAB provides the passage of the BBL by the Philippine Congress. If approved, it will pave the way for the creation of autonomous political entity for the Bangsamoro people with more fiscal and political powers.

Under the MILF political set-up, Biwang Province includes the town of Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat Province and the municipalities of Maitum, Kiamba and Maasim in Sarangani Province.

"The activity was sponsored by the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI).