MILF, MNLF sign 'unified declaration' for approval of BBL
John Unson (philstar.com) - October 13, 2015 - 2:17am

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on Tuesday signed a “unified declaration” calling for the approval the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as an embodiment of each other’s separate peace pacts with Malacañang.

The two-page declaration was signed in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao by the figurehead of the MILF, Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim, and former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema, chairman of the largest of three factions in the MNLF.

The crafting of the declaration, where both groups warned of rejection of a “diluted BBL,” was witnessed by representatives from various civil society organizations and officials of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT).

The draft BBL is still pending in Congress, mired by controversies and constitutionality issues. Senate has its own version of the bill, but stripped of most of what are for the MILF important provisions needed to address the decades-old Moro rebellion in Southern Mindanao.

Murad and Sema acknowledged extensively in separate messages the presence in the event of the representatives of IMT, which is comprised of soldiers from Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Libya and non-uniformed conflict-resolution experts from Norway, Japan and the European Union.

The IMT has been helping enforce the government-MILF interim non-aggression pact since the late 2003.

Murad and Sema had both said enacting the draft BBL into law, based on its original draft, is a fulfillment of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro between Malacañang and the MILF and the September 2, 1996 government-MNLF final truce.

They also both stated in their unified declaration that only a BBL patterned from the draft submitted to Congress by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) can address the nagging decades-old Mindanao Moro issue.

The BTC, chaired by the MILF’s chief negotiator, Muhaquer Iqbal, is comprised of seven representatives each from the rebel group and the government.

Sema’s group, the largest from among three factions in the MNLF, is not hostile to the MILF.

Sema said they will readily recognize and honor the BBL if passed into law according to its original draft as proposed by the MILF-led BTC,

The founder of the MNLF, Nur Misuari, who also leads another faction in the group, is rabidly opposed to President Benigno Aquino III’s diplomatic dealings with the MILF.

Sema said Misuari has turned his back from the Mindanao peace process by reverting to the MNLF’s original demand of independence of Moro communities from Philippine sovereignty.

The MNLF-MILF unified declaration also stated that both groups are to reject any BBL which is not a prototype of the proposed measure the BTC drafted.

The proposed BBL is the enabling measure for the replacement of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with a more politically and administratively empowered Bangsamoro political entity.

The declaration also called on Mindanao’s Moro communities to continue supporting the Mindanao peace process and the efforts of President Aquino and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to put diplomatic closure to the decades-old secessionist uprising in the country’s south.

The OIC, a bloc of more than 50 Muslim states, including petroleum-exporting countries in the Middle East and North Africa, helped broker the now 19-year government-MNLF peace agreement.

Sema and Murad had told reporters, after the signing of the unified declaration, the government should consider as dividend of the peace process their respective groups’ having opted for self-rule under the Philippine flag instead of secession from the country as originally demanded.

The event, held at the MILF’s Camp Darapanan in west of Sultan Kudarat town, was witnessed by about a thousand field commanders of the rebel group and MNLF community leaders from across Mindanao.

Also present in the ceremonial signing of the unified declaration were MNLF representatives from the Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi area, among them former ARMM Assemblyman Hatimil Hassan and Muslimin Jakilan, who is incumbent regional labor secretary of the autonomous region, both ethnic Yakans from the island province of Basilan.

ACIRC AL-HAJ MURAD EBRAHIM ASSEMBLYMAN HATIMIL HASSAN AND MUSLIMIN JAKILAN BBL DECLARATION MILF MINDANAO MNLF MURAD AND SEMA SEMA SULTAN KUDARAT
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