MNLF, MILF reiterate commitment to peace after Duterte SONA
(philstar.com) - July 26, 2016 - 11:50am
COTABATO CITY, Philippines -- The Moro Islamic Liberation Front and a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front on Tuesday promised to reciprocate President Rodrigo Duterte's commitment to the southern peace process.
 
Duterte underscored his administration's desire to put a negotiated closure to the now 45-year Mindanao secessionist conflict in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.
 
Efforts to address the Moro issue have been a drawn-out initiative, spanning six Philippine presidents since the crafting of the December 23, 1976 Tripoli Agreement in Libya by MNLF founder Nur Misuari and a panel led by Manuel Yan, representing President Ferdinand Marcos.
 
The agreement, brokered by Muammar Gaddafi, then president of Libya, a member-state of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, was the main reference used in the drafting of the Sept. 2, 1996 agreement between the MNLF and Malacañang and, subsequently, the government’s compact with the MILF, the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB).
 
"There is a possibility he (Duterte) would be the last president we are to negotiate with. We are inspired by his being positive on the peace process. We will reciprocate with honor and vigor," said Muslimin Sema, chair of the largest of three groups in the MNLF.
 

'Now is best time to solve Mindanao problem'

 
Unlike the faction led by Misuari, the MNLF-Sema group, which is larger and more politically active, is not hostile to the MILF.
 
Misuari has strongly been opposing Malacañang’s dealings with the MILF. He had even accused President Benigno Aquino III of having “abrogated” the MNLF’s final peace agreement with the government by forging a separate deal with the MILF, the vaunted CAB.
 
“It is easier to solve the Mindanao problem now while the moderate, older Moro leaders are still alive. The next generation of Moro leaders will surely be radical and dealing with them might be tediously difficult,” Sema said.
 
The MILF’s vice chairman for political affairs, Ghazali Jaafar, said the group is certain Duterte will keep his pledge to abide by all agreements between Malacañang and Mindanao’s Moro fronts.
 
Duterte first promised to do so during the campaign period and, subsequently, in an inaugural speech on June 30.
 
Jaafar said their trust in Duterte is bolstered by his being from Davao City and his having Maranaw and Lumad ancestry.
 
“No one will understand better the Moro issue but a Mindanaon,” Jaafar said.
 
The MNLF-Sema group and the MILF have twice crafted joint statements binding both to converge in pushing forward a common peace blueprint for the Moro rebellion.

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