With new Bangsamoro law, MILF opens doors to BIFF members

Arianne Apatan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 30 2018 12:28 AM

CAMP DARAPANAN, Maguindanao -- Following the signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said it is opening its doors to the members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) should they want to return to the fold.

MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim, in a gathering of almost 100,000 MILF officials, combatants and supporters in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on Sunday, said terrorists and extremist groups will be isolated with the new Bangsamoro law.

The BIFF is a breakaway group of MILF led by the late Ustadz Ameril Umbra Kato. 

The group has since been broken into three factions: Karialan, Bungos and Abu Turaifie’s group.

"Anytime they want to join, they can join," Ebrahim said.

However, he clarified that the invitation is not extended to the group of Abu Turaifie, which has been labeled by the Army’s 6th Infantry Division as an ISIS-inspired group in Central Mindanao.

Murad said the MILF has been trying to negotiate with the Karialan and Bungos factions to join and once again be a part of the organization.

“They still want political solutions kaya lang hindi sila naniniwala sa gobyerno, so if there’s viable political solution in place, I think this can gradually win over itong mga small groups," Ebrahim added.

The BIFF Karialan faction said it is on a “wait and see” mode as to the implementation of the new Bangsamoro law and if this will uphold the Shariah Law.

But according to them, they will not be a hindrance to the implementation of the law.

“Alam mo naman with all the organization ng Bangsamoro people ay magkapareho kami ng hangarin na magkaroon to have just and lasting peace in Mindanao," said BIFF Karialan faction spokesperson, Abu Amir.

On the other hand, BIFF Bungos faction spokesperson Abu Missry Mama maintained their position and that the fight is far from over.

“Kaya kami tumiwalag dahil hindi namin (inaano) o kinilala, kaya tumiwalag kami. Sa madaling salita independence, independence, independence," he explained.

MAKING DREAM INTO REALITY

For 61-year-old MILF combatant Sonny Mokamad, who has been in countless battles against the government, the Bangsamoro law is a dream come true.

"Siyempre masaya. Naalala ko 'yung tatay ko, namatay siya, hindi na niya naabutan ito," he said as he remembered his father, who was also a combatant and a former member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). "Medyo nakamit ang katahimikan."

For Grade 6 student Kayla Kabalu, the Bangsamoro law will allow her to make her dreams -- not hearing aerial and ground explosions on her way to school -- a reality.

Kabalu comes from a remote village in Rajah Buayan, Maguindanao, which has previously been affected by armed conflicts.

“Kaya nga 'di kami makapagaral nang mabuti... Ngayon masaya, wala nang giyera," she said.

During the assembly, the MILF urged its members and supporters to stay united as they face new struggles as the new Bangsamoro government takes its place.