It's final: MILF cuts ties with Kato

by Lore Mae Andong, ABS-CBN News Central Mindanao

Posted at Sep 28 2011 06:31 PM | Updated as of Sep 29 2011 02:31 AM

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) already decided on the fate of former MILF 105th Base Commander Ustadz Ameril Umbra Kato.

MILF Vice-Chair for Political Affairs Ghadzali Jaafar said the Central Committee had already confirmed Kato is no longer with MILF based on his declaration last August 19 that he and his followers, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, are not within the fold of the MILF.

It took a long time for the MILF leadership to decide on Kato out of respect to the Ulama Council, and also to give him the chance to come back to the MILF.

"Nagdecide na officially ang central committee confirming Kato's declaration na hindi na siya MILF…MILF officially decided and declared that Kato is not MILF," Jaafar said.

The Ulama Council and Islam preachers were also given 2 weeks to decide on Kato.

Jaafar said the Ulama Council is set to meet again tomorrow. However, the decision of the Ulama will not anymore matter to what the MILF has already decided on Kato.

"Not so much, alam na ng mga ulama ang desisyon ng MILF kay Kato, kung ano ang mapagdesisyunan nila para sa yun sa grupo nila bilang mga ulama, pero titingnan rin natin ang kanilang recommendation," Jaafar said.

Since Kato is no longer within the fold of the MILF, he is no longer covered by the ceasefire agreement between the government. The MILF will also not take responsibility for Kato's actions, Jaafar said.

"Kung ano ang kanyang gagawin, wala na kami pakialam, kanyang responsibilidad yun at walang kinalaman ang MILF, kasi di na siya under the command of the MILF and the [Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces]…That’s the implication, sapagkat nang siya ay umalis sa MILF, di na siya sakop sa provisions ng mga agreement ng GPH at MILF bilang BIAF, pero sakop pa rin siya ng provision ng agreement ng government at MILF on Bangsamoro civilians," Jaafar said.

Kato led the war against the government last August 2008, together with Commander Bravo, in connection with the government’s Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain. The conflict resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians in North Cotabato and Maguindanao.

Meantime, the schedule for the next round of peace talks has not been decided.

Jaafar said MILF has already given a proposal to the government through the Malaysian facilitator during his visit at Camp Darapan, in Sultan Kudarat Maguindanao last September 8.

He said the proposal was MILF's way of moving forward with its negotiations with the government. The new proposal contains 3 points: the establishment of a Bangsamoro government, the arrangement of distribution of wealth and minerals within the Bangsamoro territory, and the transition government.

The government has yet to react to the proposal.

The MILF still believes the Comprehensive Compact Agreement is the solution to the Bangsamoro problem in Mindanao.