MANILA, Philippines - Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari agreed last night to a ceasefire in Zamboanga City effective today.
Vice President Jejomar Binay announced the ceasefire after talking with both Gazmin and Misuari on the phone last night.
In an interview on GMA News Saksi, Binay said Misuari authorized him to announce the ceasefire to the media.
Binay was expected to fly to Zamboanga early this morning to study the mechanics for a peaceful settlement of the crisis in Zamboanga.
Meet on MNLF deal next week deferred
Amid the hostilities in Zamboanga and Basilan, the government has decided to defer a meeting next week in Indonesia on the tripartite review of the 1996 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
Explaining the postponement, President Aquino said MNLF chairman Nur Misuari and his group would not be able to attend the meeting.
Misuari’s camp said the meeting was meant to formally end the tripartite review of the implementation of the original peace deal.
The review, conducted by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) together with Indonesia and the MNLF, was looking into Misuari’s complaint that three issues in the 1996 peace deal remained unresolved and had not been fully implemented. The government peace panel disputes this and, according to Misuari’s camp, had recommended the termination of the review.
Misuari and his supporters in the MNLF want the full implementation of the original peace deal before the government signs a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a breakaway faction of the MNLF.
The looming termination of the review prompted Misuari to declare independence for the Islamic areas in Mindanao along with Palawan as well as Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia.
A tip-off that he would be arrested for rebellion reportedly triggered the latest crisis in Zamboanga.
President Aquino denied that Misuari and his group had been excluded from the peace process with the MILF, which will proceed despite the crisis in Zamboanga.
Aquino said it was Misuari who gave up on further discussions on the three “unresolved issues.”
Administration officials said the MNLF had been invited to participate from the start in the peace process with the MILF. The officials denied that the review had been terminated.
The officials said any agreement forged with the MILF would not be new but merely a refinement of the one signed in 1996.
They said Misuari should not expect to head the autonomous Muslim region forever.
Aquino said it was against the Constitution to appoint the head of the Muslim region, as Misuari apparently wanted.
Aquino decried those who did not want the Bangsamoro framework agreement with the MILF to move forward.
He indicated he did not believe Misuari had nothing to do with the conflict in Zamboanga.
Those involved are under investigation, with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima studying the charges that can be filed.
Aquino said they wanted to build a tight case to prevent a repeat of Misuari’s acquittal due to insufficiency of evidence in connection with the “mini rebellion” in 2001 in Zamboanga and Sulu.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles met with Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Marty Natalegawa in Jakarta recently to discuss the status of the government-MNLF peace deal.
Deles said since the tripartite review started in November 2007, consensus points and joint mechanisms between the MNLF and representatives of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) were established.
Deles said Natalegawa reiterated Indonesia’s support for the efforts being undertaken by the Philippine government to ensure a lasting settlement of the armed conflict in Mindanao.
“He was categorical in stating that Indonesia opposes any attempt to jeopardize the territorial integrity of the Philippines,” Deles said. “He said it is important to ensure that the process does not provide any opportunity for spoilers to intervene.”
SC asked to stop
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court (SC) was again asked yesterday to stop the implementation of the framework agreement with the MILF.
Lawyer Oliver Lozano urged the SC to immediately act on his earlier petition seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO) “to preempt jihad or holy war.”
Lozano argued that the TRO would be a “unifying Solomonic solution” to the ongoing conflict.
He said the MNLF has a “valid protest” and a TRO would pave the way for multi-sectoral consultations on a new framework agreement “that is inclusive, democratic an constitutional.”
Lozano is representing the International Ministries for Perfect and Party Against Communism and Terrorism Inc. (Imppact) in filing the petition with the SC last January.
He asked the high court to declare the Bangsamoro framework deal unconstitutional.
His group alleged that the government peace panel committed grave abuse of discretion, arguing that the Constitution provided for the creation merely of the ARMM and not a “Bangsamoro” entity.