MANILA, Philippines - Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari yesterday warned of possible unrest in Mindanao if the government pushes through with its Bangsamoro agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Misuari said the agreement is a violation of the series of agreements with the mainstream Muslim rebels that was brokered by the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).
Misuari also blasted Malaysia for interfering in the Philippines’ internal affairs when it brokered the peace talks with the MILF.
“It’s a slap on the face of the members of the 57 Muslim countries,” Misuari said over radio dzRH.
He said the series of peace accords – the Tripoli Agreement, the Jeddah Accord in 1987 and the final peace agreement in 1996 – could not just be thrown out without expecting any backlash from the parties involved.
Misuari insisted the MNLF is the only group recognized by the OIC representing not only the Muslims but also the indigenous communities and Christians in Mindanao.
He said the MNLF represents nine to 11 million Muslims all over Mindanao.
Misuari, who also announced his filing of certificate of candidacy to run as ARMM governor, said the entry of Malaysia in the peace negotiations with the MILF has sabotaged the final implementation of the 1996 MNLF peace agreement.
He said Malaysia fears that if the final agreement with MNLF is implemented, it will result in the inclusion of Sabah and Sarawak to the Bangsamoro territory, so it intervened in the internal affairs of the country.
MNLF’s Islamic Command Council (ICC) chairman Habib Mujahab Hashim said the framework agreement with the MILF was tantamount to the total abrogation of the peace accord they have with the government.
“But what about the final agreement (between) the MNLF and the (government)? They should have first declared this abrogated and abrogate it officially before entering into another agreement,” Hashim said.
“For us, this is a double talk, a betrayal on the part of the government on the MNLF,” he added.
Hashim said the MNLF was concerned with the effect of the framework agreement, dismissing it as a total unilateral abrogation of the 1996 peace agreement, the Tripoli Agreement, and the Jeddah Accord of 1987.
The MNLF has entered into three agreements with the government since the time of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos in 1976, under President Corazon Aquino in 1986 to 1987, and President Fidel Ramos in 1996 that resulted in the enactment of Republic Act 1954, establishing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“Now, they would like to erase that from the face of history,” Hashim said.
Hashim, concurrent MNLF deputy foreign minister, said they will exhaust all remedies by bringing the issue before the OIC, citing the 1996 peace accord was penned in the form of a tripartite and international agreement.
Under the tripartite form of agreement pursuant to international law and international practice, one party cannot abrogate such agreement without the consent of another party, according to Hashim, adding that the MNLF was not consulted on the current agreement with the MILF.
While the framework agreement is good for the MILF, Hashim expressed doubts that it would benefit the Bangsamoro people.
Hashim said the MNLF is the only internationally recognized representative of the Bangsamoro people.
“Because there is no other recourse now for the (MNLF), at least the majority of the senior leaders of the MNLF, we have no other recourse but to go back to the original objective of arms struggle,” Hashim warned.
“We will no longer entertain any form of ministerial or, if it is autonomy, it shall be independence. That is what we have fought for the last time,” Hashim said.
Hashim resented the government’s description of ARMM, a fruit of 1996 peace agreement after 40 years of negotiation, as a failed experiment.
“We worked hard for this. The MNLF worked for this after 40 years and a short period of time, they will say it is a failed experiment?” he said.
The MNLF official was also skeptical as to what guarantee there will be after the signing of a final peace agreement with MILF that it will not be declared by the government or by the incoming administration or next president as a failed experiment. “So there will be no end of conflict in the south,”he said.
He said the framework agreement of the government with the MILF is a “betrayal.”
While hoping the agreement will not bring backlash from the ground forces of MNLF, Hashim warned that the government should not underestimate their strength.
“For us we have no other choice. We cannot just sit down in the ongoing peace talks, but we will not disturb them,” he said. – With Roel Pareño