MNLF, MILF must resolve issues prior to talks in BTC: Palace

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 08 2016 02:30 PM | Updated as of Nov 09 2016 01:18 AM

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) will be in-charge of mediating between rebel groups Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) before they sit together in the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella asserted that the two Moro rebel groups will have to settle their differences before they sit together in the 21-member commission tasked to prepare a draft of the new Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

"It will have to be settled even before the process takes place. They’ll have to sit down together and be able to express their opinions and doubts and difficulties; but it will have to be resolved before they actually sit down," he said, noting that resolving their conflicts is essential to the peace process.

"The OPAPP will be in-charge of settling those matters," he added.

According to the Thomas Reuters Foundation, the failed 1976 peace agreement signed by the MNLF led to a partial break-up of the organization, with the group's second-in-command, Salamat Hashim, going on to start the MILF.

Decades later, when it was the MILF who signed a peace pact with the government, the MNLF strongly opposed it, with MNLF launching an attack in Zamboanga in September 2013.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday signed an executive order (EO) reconstituting the BTC, whose 21 members shall comprise of 11 representatives from the MILF and 10 will be nominated by the government, including three from the MNLF side.

Abella said the BTC is expected to submit its draft of the rules and regulations to create a Bangsamoro government to the Congress by the middle of 2017.

MISUARI AND MALAYSIA

After a local court ordered the temporary suspension of the arrest warrant against MNLF Founding Chairman Nur Misuari in connection with the 2013 siege, he claimed Thursday that Malaysia is to blame for the kidnappings in Sipadan, Malaysia in the year 2000.

This came, however, just days before Duterte leaves for Kuala Lumpur, where he will have bilateral talks with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Abella maintained, the government is not adopting Misuari's statements as its own.

"Walang kinalaman (ang gobyerno doon); that was the position of Nur Misuari, and if it’s talked about in the sidelines, then it will be talked about. But it’s not the government’s position, it’s Misuari’s position," he said.

Another issue that may be discussed in the visit on Wednesday is the Philippines’ claim to Sabah, but Abella said he is not particularly sure if it will be.

"We don’t know the details regarding those matters, but as far as I know it’s not on the table—as far as I know, but I may be wrong," he said.