MANILA – Former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada has expressed apprehension over the recently signed framework agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on the creation of the Bangsamoro.
Although the former commander-in-chief said he is hopeful that the peace pact will be successful, he is worried over the resistance of Nur Misuari's faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Ameril Umbra Kato's Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
“Dapat sinama na lahat in this agreement, pero hindi eh. That’s what I am afraid of. Baka magkaroon na naman ng breakaway group diyan, like Nur Misuari and this BIFF,” he told dzMM’s “Pasada Sais Trenta”.
Misuari has expressed disagreement with the Bangsamoro deal, calling it a "death sentence" for MILF members.
Misuari claimed the agreement has resulted in the defection of some 17,000 disgruntled MILF members to the MNLF.
Mohaqer Iqbal, MILF chief peace negotiator, doubts Misuari’s statements, however, saying the figure may have been “exaggerated.”
Iqbal has also downplayed the threats of the BIFF, saying the breakaway group "has no legitimacy."
Repeat of ARMM?
Estrada said the Bangsamoro may just be a repeat of the ARMM, which Malacañang has declared as a “failed experiment.”
“I hope and pray that it will succeed because it already happened at the time of President Ramos and when Nur Misuari was given the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, What happened? There was a splinter group and the MILF was created to breakaway. So again the war continued, the kidnapping continued and the burning of towns continued,” said Estrada.
[Editor's note: The MILF broke away from the MNLF during the Marcos regime, not during the Ramos administration.]
The MNLF signed a peace accord with the Ramos administration on September 2, 1996.
Despite his doubts, Estrada noted that the agreement will stand as long as it “will not counter our Constitution.”
“It is clear that there is only one flag, one Armed Forces of the Philippines and one government. So we cannot afford to have a sub-state with different laws that run counter to our government laws,” he said.
Estrada also criticized the role of Malaysia in the peace process, saying the Philippines does not need “any foreign intervention.”
“We cannot say yet that this agreement is successful up to now. One thing I noticed, why do you have to include the Malaysians? We are a sovereign country, we should solve our own problems,” he said.
During his presidency, Estrada declared an all-out war against the MILF. The former President clarified that he too pushed for peace in 2000 but violence continued in the region.