Mohagher Iqbal, Peace Implementing Panel Chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, talks to MindaNews on 20 February 2019. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

“We have seen the dawn”-Iqbal tells Mindanews

Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao–In an interview by Mindanews at the lobby of Manila Prince Hotel in Ermita, Manila, Mohagher Iqbal, Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Information Committee, and chair of its peace panel since July 2003, described as an “unexpected, unprogrammed” day on what was supposed to be a historic moment in their lives — the oathtaking for the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) on February 20.

Iqbal was referring to the postponement of the BTA launching, and oath taking of members of the Bangsamoro Parliament.

Iqbal, like MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim recalls receiving a text message from Galvez at 7:07 p.m. that “baka ma-move” (it might be moved) to February 22, Galvez finally confirming the postponement during the welcome dinner he and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana tendered for the MILF delegation at the hotel.

With the postponement, Iqbal spent some time with his family between meetings and interviews, while between meetings and interviews, Al Haj Murad, the MILF’s nominee to be Interim Chief Minister, dined with different ambassadors, Mindanews said in its report.

Al haj Murad Murad also led a delegation of 300 from the MILF, including members of its Central Committee, the Chief of Staff of the soon-to-be-decommissioned Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, five of the seven Front commanders and representatives of the two others who could not come due to illness, and, in the words of Iqbal, “scores of base commanders,” Mindanews also said in its report. 

Iqbal, the historian of the MILF – he has written two books on the peace process – as Salah Jubair, said in the long history of the Bangsamoro peace process, including the peace process with the MNLF that led to the signing of the Tripoi Agreement of 1976, and the MILF’s from 1997, “who’d think we would ever reach – it’s as if it is impossible mission but it was made possible with the passage and the ratification of the Bangsamoro law, because we believe in the struggle, we believe in perseverance.”

Iqbal wrote “Bangsamoro: A nation under endless tyranny” and “The Long Road to Peace: Inside the GRP-MILF Peace Process.”

Just recently, Iqbal’s third published book, “Negotiating Peace”, a compilation of his speeches from 2005 to 2010 also came out.

“We were young before and now we are old but we are lucky, so lucky enough that at least we have seen the dawn of what we intend to achieve… We have seen the dawn right now,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal told Mindanews that he is “very happy but at the same time I am also worried,” because “we are facing an unchartered territory – governance. We have not done this any time before.  We succeeded in the armed struggle for almost 50 years. We succeeded in the negotiation for 42 years including that of the MNLF. We succeeded in coming up with the law for five years from the Aquino administration then Duterte administration. We succeeded in the plebiscite, we achieved what we want,

Iqbal also told MIndanews that MILF are facing a new challenge, an unchartered territory and that worries me.”

Iqbal said they have been asked if they could guarantee success of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the new autonomous political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). “I cannot guarantee … we are human beings — the only thing I can guarantee is best efforts.”

“As to whether we can succeed and deliver, well, time will tell,” Iqbal said. (Source: MIndanews)