MNLF won't join MILF in crafting peace deal

By John Unson, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 21 2014 09:12 AM | Updated as of Jan 21 2014 05:12 PM

COTABATO CITY – The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has rejected proposals to unite with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in crafting a peace deal with the government.

The MNLF, which signed a peace accord with the government on Sept. 2, 1996, said it is merely adhering to resolutions of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), adding that any of its dealings with Malacañang must be within the ambit of the existing tripartite body.

The MNLF faction chaired by former Cotabato City vice mayor Muslimin Sema had said in an emailed statement that accepting the proposal of the government and MILF could be construed as an insult to the OIC.

The OIC, a bloc of more than 50 Islamic states, including wealthy petroleum-exporting nations in the Middle East and North Africa, helped broker the government-MNLF peace agreement.

The peace accord is now subject of a tripartite review involving the OIC, MNLF and representatives from the national government and ARMM in the effort to resolve misunderstandings on the implementation of some sensitive provisions.

The tripartite review has already reached 42 consensus points on education, Moro political representation, natural resources, Sharia and regional security, which are almost identical with what had been stated in all of the three annexes the government and MILF panels had added to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

The government and MILF panels are yet to complete the fourth and last annex on normalization in the next round of talks in Malaysia.

The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro is to become the basis for the setting up of an MILF-led Bangsamoro entity, which the government and the MILF intend to put up before the three-year term of ARMM officials ends on June 30, 2016.

The MNLF faction led by Nur Misuari is just as reluctant to converge with the MILF and join in its forging of a final peace agreement with the government.

Misuari has, in fact, been very critical of the ongoing peace negotiations.

The group of Sema said the issue of MILF-MNLF convergence is best left to the OIC.

“The MNLF has yet to wait for the manifestation of the OIC as regards to the modalities on how that linkage can be worked out,” the group said.