MNLF-MILF deal reaches breakthrough
Roel Pareño (The Philippine Star) - June 16, 2014 - 11:31am

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - The unification efforts have taken a positive turn when the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) agreed to settle differences following a meeting initiated by the powerful 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) late last week, senior fronts’ leaders said. 

MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal confirmed the breakthrough on Sunday, adding that the two fronts with the leaders of the OIC secretariats signed a joint statement reactivating the Bangsamoro Coordinating Forum (BCF).

The BCF is a mechanism formally created by the OIC two years ago, to mend the differences of the two Moro fronts which severed during the 70’s when then leader Hashim Salamat broke away due to ideology and leadership differences.

Iqbal, in a statement, said the BCF joint statement was signed by him as head of the MILF delegates and Randolph Pacasio, spokesman and legal counsel of the MNLF with the presence of OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madami. 

“His Excellency Iyad Ameen Madami advised the MNLF and MILF about the need for working relations among the groups and leaders,” Iqbal said during their meeting in Jeddah that was initiated by the OIC last June 12.

The OIC wanted to bind the two fronts to commit them in advancing the welfare and the interest of the Bangsamoro people in southern Philippines since 2010, noting the MNLF and MILF were pushing for similar ideology in protecting the welfare of the Bangsamoro people.

Iqbal said, “with developments in the southern peace process, there is a need for all Moro leaders to put their acts together to protect the Bangsamoro.” 

He said the development in the peace process can be strengthened when all Moro leaders will rally behind 

The OIC attempted to reunite the two fronts in two occasions during the Council of Foreign Ministers conference in Tajikistan in 2010 and Djibouti, Africa in 2012 between MNLF chair and founder Nur Misuari and MILF chair Ebrahim Murad.

While both sides have agreed to create an ad hoc joint secretariat that will facilitate the communications of the two fronts, the effort did not progress when Misuari set conditions for the MILF and other Moro groups to dissolve their organizations and be one with the MNLF. 

The unification efforts have taken a positive turn after several MNLF factions, which earlier cut ties with Misuari, started in engaging in dialogues with the MILF to find a common ground, especially on how to bring the two peace agreements– the 1996 Final Peace Agreement and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

Abdul Sahrin, secretary general of the MNLF Sema faction, emphasized the main objectives of the BCF.

Sahrin said the BCF is supposed to accomplish three tasks: to reconcile the polarized MNLF leaderships; to reconcile the reunited MNLF with the MILF; and  to establish a unified MNLF-MILF position on the implementation of OIC 2013 resolution calling for integration of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro under the Basic Law. 

Iqbal said the reactivation of the BCF is expected to be one of the resolutions to be adopted when the OIC member countries will meet this week in Jeddah for their 41st Council of Foreign Ministers Conference. 

During the meeting in Jeddah, among the leaders present were Ustadz Abdulbaki Abubakar heading the MNLF delegation. It consists of several factions including Muslimin Sema, Hatimil Hassan and Habib Mujahab. 

Misuari, facing charges before the Philippine court for violating international humanitarian law and causing rebellion in connection with the Sept. 9 siege in Zamboanga City that left 200 people dead and over 120,000 people displaced, was not present.

ABDUL SAHRIN BANGSAMORO FINAL PEACE AGREEMENT AND THE COMPREHENSIVE AGREEMENT IQBAL JEDDAH MILF MISUARI MNLF OIC TWO
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