THE Muslim leaders from Mindanao have urged the Aquino administration for the full implementation of the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) 1996 Final Peace Agreement that they now call as the “Mother of All Bangsamoro Peace Agreements,” while at the same time Muslim civil societies have signed a resolution supporting the same move.
This was expressed in unison by Muslim leaders composed of former regional governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), congressmen, ambassador, lawyers, and members of the academe, as well as former commissioner of the Commission on Elections in a meeting held over the weekend at the Sulo Hotel in Quezon City.
Rep. Tupay Loong of the First District of Sulu in his capacity as the chairman of the Committee on Muslim Affairs of the House of Representatives invited this group of Muslim leaders for a consultative and unity meeting.
In a phone interview with Loong, he told The Manila Times that for the government to resume peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) there is an urgent need to resolve first the impending contentious issues with the MNLF.
Loong particularly referred to the incomplete implementations of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement, which according to him, MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari has been complaining every now and then.
“There is a need to close the chapter of the MNLF struggle for self-determination by making the government complies with all the provisions of the GRP [Government of the Republic of the Philippines]-MNLF peace accord up to its last provision before entering into another chapter of peace negotiations with the MILF,” Loong emphasized.
The Muslim lawmaker who was the former governor of Sulu for several terms and also former MNLF commander of the famed “Magic 8 of Sulu” said it would be absurd for the government to enter into another round of peace negotiations with another group of Moro rebels when in fact there are impending issues with the other group like in the case of the MNLF that are not yet resolved.
Loong said the government should deal with only with one Moro front at one time so that it can concentrate all its efforts and resources rather than having peace negotiations with two Moro fronts at the same time and ended unsatisfactorily.
“There must be final closure to the chapter of the MNLF history of armed struggle before the GRP will deal with another chapter particularly the MILF history of armed struggle,” the Sulu lawmaker further said.
As this developed, Dr. Parouk Hussin who is the chair of the MNLF Foreign Relations Committee and former ARMM regional governor agreed with the position taken by Loong that there is a need to fully implement all the provisions of the peace accord signed by the GRP and the MNLF as witnessed by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
Hussin said Misuari had already held several rounds of meetings with officials of the OIC in the Middle East in order to discuss matters relevant to the full implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement that the pan-Islamic body brokered in a series of peace negotiations.
However, Hussin said the MNLF chairman has been disgusted already that despite of his efforts to enlist the help of the OIC, the genuine autonomy envisioned by the MNLF for the Muslim Filipinos is still nowhere in sight.
As a senior leader of the MNLF, Hussin also thanked Loong for articulating the MNLF issue and for his efforts to gather all Muslim professionals in Metro Manila particularly from the group of the Tausug in order to discuss the issues regarding the incomplete implementation of the 1996 government-MNLF peace accord.
The former ARMM governor also emphasized that he is opposed to the suggestion of some sectors to abolish the ARMM, saying that as senior leader of the Moro front, “I consider the ARMM as the fruit of the sacrifices of the Bangsamoro people that resulted in the lost of thousands of lives.”
Hence, it would be unthinkable to dismantle the ARMM since its creation was the result of the Moro blood that has been spilled in the armed struggle, Hussin emphasized.
“The establishment of the ARMM is still the best thing that the Moro people have achieved so far in this predominant Catholic nation,” Hussin further said.
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