Bangsamoro folks reject Duterte’s Mindanao independence call

John Unson - Philstar.com
Bangsamoro folks reject Duterte�s Mindanao independence call
This file photo shows the executive building of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
via The STAR / John Unson

COTABATO CITY— People from different sectors in the Bangsamoro region on Friday blatantly rejected former President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for Mindanao independence, asserting that they will never ever ruin the gains of their peace process with the national government.

Members of the 80-seat parliament of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao told reporters that they value Malacañang’s separate peace compacts with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that provided Muslims, Christians and indigenous people, or IPs, in BARMM powers to establish a self-governing geopolitical territory they can call home.

Duterte announced in Davao City early this week that local groups are to fuse ranks and work out Mindanao’s independence.

“We value the government’s separate peace agreements with the MNLF and the MILF. We can’t support such a move. It is us, the Moro people and the non-Muslim indigenous tribes who are original owners of what is now Mindanao. That is a fact, plain and simple,” a ranking Moro member of the BARMM parliament, who requested anonymity, said on Friday.

In a statement released on Friday morning, BARMM’s chief minister, Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, who is chairman of the MILF’s central committee, said that they are for the faithful implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro or CAB that they have crafted along with government negotiators in 2014 and provided residents of what is now the Bangsamoro region “right to self-determination.”

“Although more has yet to be done, parties to the CAB had great strides in the implementation of its components that are ultimately beneficial to the Bangsamoro people,” Ebrahim said.

Ebrahim said that the MILF appreciates the contributions of past and the present Philippine presidents in addressing the Moro quest for self-governance.

The MNLF and the MILF had fought for Moro autonomy for decades in bloody uprisings that waned only after each had forged peace agreements with Malacañang recognizing rights of southerners to have a territory that they can manage on their own in the context of meaningful autonomy under Philippine sovereignty.

A Maranaw grains trader, Samsudin Saripada, told reporters the autonomy now enjoyed by Muslim, Christian and IP communities in BARMM was paid for with the blood, sweat and tears of the Moro guerillas who fought for it from the late 1960s until Malacañang had entered into a peace agreement with the MNLF on Sept. 2, 1996 and, subsequently, forged the CAB along with the MILF nine years ago.

“We cherish and shall nurture the dividends of the national government’s peace deals with the MNLF and the MILF. Enshrined in these agreements is the national government’s obligation to give us genuine and meaningful autonomy,” a Yakan Islamic theologian in Basilan, Ustadz Abdulmuin Falahuddin, said.

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