MNLF senior leaders divided over gov't's peace efforts
Roel Pareño (The Philippine Star) - September 2, 2013 - 3:47pm

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - The senior leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) from the central committee and the group aligned with the faction of its founding chair Nur Misuari are divided over its stand on the peace overture of the government between the two groups.

This after the MNLF central committee, which previously ousted Misuari from the chairmanship, signed a resolution supporting the government in merging the two peace processes of the MNLF’s 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to achieve the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).

The forum was initiated by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the regional office of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to clarify to the MNLF leaders the government has upheld the 1996 final peace accord.

An MNLF faction under Habib Mujahab Hashim, who is aligned with the group of Misuari, described the efforts in drawing of support as a “divide and rule” tactic to dismember the whole MNLF organization and to seek support to the proposed  FAB with the MILF.

Hashim said while their faction does not fully support  the resolution of their other senior MNLF faction they will continue to talk with the government.

The resolution, which will be furnished to the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), President Benigno Aquino III through the OPAPP, and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman, was signed during the MNLF Senior leaders forum held Sunday in a hotel in this city.

Among the signatories were Yusop Jikiri, presiding chairman of the MNLF senior leaders forum (MNLF-SLF), Abuamri Taddik and Abebakrin Lukman, both acting secretary of the MNLF-SLF.

The resolution reiterated the MNLF senior leaders and commanders'support to the 1996 final peace agreement and the current GRP-MNLF and OIC Tripartite Implementation Review of the accord.

In the resolution, the leaders expressed full support to the continuity of the final peace accord and the completion of its implementation, but with condition for the government to clarify, define and recall the note verbal closure of the tripartite review that was conveyed by the Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary to the OIC last March 21.

The note verbale has purportedly earlier prompted  Misuari to declare his own independent Bangsamoro state following a series of dialogues with thousands of his followers and leaders in Sulu.

Misuari, who said the closure of the tripartite review was tantamount to abrogating the 1996 final peace agreement, will elevate their independence cause before the United Nation (UN) and the OIC.

During the forum, the MNLF senior leaders also stipulated in their resolution recommendations to join or constitute the membership of the MNLF peace panel for the resumption of the GRP-MNLF and OIC tripartite meeting.

“And that we welcome the proposal to achieve a more comprehensive and inclusive political solution to the Bangsamoro problem through convergence of the two peace processes involving the MNLF and the MILF,” according to the resolution of the MNLF senior leaders’ forum.

Abdul Sahrin, MNLF secretary general to the MNLF central committee faction under Muslimen Semah, said over the local radio here that the faction affirmed the peace partnership between the MNLF, OPAPP and ARMM.

Sahrin said the partnership ensures the MNLF of the ongoing OPAPP and ARMM socio-economic development programs for its communities in the autonomous region and non-ARMM areas and the distribution of benefits that accrue to the final peace agreement.

Sahrin said the socio-development programs include scholarship, government’s health insurance PhilHealth registration, and the cash-for-work program, and sustainable livelihood programs.

Hataman called on the whole MNLF leadership to cast away doubts on the government efforts in bringing peace and development into troubled areas.

“All the efforts that are being implemented are based on what was stipulated in the agreement and we are striving in implementing programs to capacitate our people for an inclusive, just and lasting peace,” Hataman said.

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