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MILF to Senators: Peace Talks is extra-constitutional right at the start

August 17, 2008 

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) reminded some Filipino senators opposed to the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) that right at the start of the GRP-MILF Peace Talks in 1997, the negotiation was already extra-constitutional, or the MILF was and is not a true and legitimate revolutionary organization but mere non-government organizations (NGOs) or lobby groups fighting for reforms within the very system in this country.

 

“When you talk to rebels, it is understood that you suspend your laws over them or they will not talk to you and let their guns speak,” Muhammad Ameen, chairperson of the MILF Secretariat, told Luwaran today.

 

He cited the cases of Machakus Agreement between Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the Good Friday Agreement between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom, the Bougainville Agreement in  Bougainville, Northern Sahara Agreement, the Aceh Agreement between Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement, and the Kosovo Formula.

 

“It is regrettable that still many senators, who are supposed to be national leaders, are ignorant of these models of conflict resolutions around the globe. They showed their biases, prejudices, and hatred in recent days, and ganged up on the MILF and the Moro people as if they are toughies on the streets,” he gasped.

 

“Are you not aware of the fact that when a senator files a resolution in the Senate that resolution is not constitutional until it is passed by both Houses and signed into law by the president?” he urged them to contemplate.

 

 He informed the Senators that the government and the MILF when they signed the Tripoli Agreement on Peace of June 22, 2001 agreed to open “new formulas” that would “permanently address” the centuries-old Moro Problem in Mindanao.

 

They also agreed in principle that the government will not raise the issue of constitution, territorial integrity, and national sovereignty, and the MILF not to raise the issue of independence.

 

The agenda was agreed during the time of President Fidel Ramos in 1997, continued to the presidency of Joseph Estrada, but the peace talks collapsed when he declared all-out war against the MILF in 2000. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo picked up the pieces and urged the MILF to return to the negotiating table. Hesitant in the beginning, the MILF agreed later after Arroyo agreed to conduct the talks in foreign soils, facilitated by the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) or any member country, and acknowledged and implement all past agreements.

 

Ameen described “new formulas” as some form of self-governance for the Bangsamoro People that the Parties, with third party facilitation, will search and negotiate as they move the peace process forward, as distinguished from the “old formulas” tried by the government but failed miserably to address the Moro Problem.

 

He enumerated the various forms of old formulas which the government tried but resulted in dismal failures, some of which were very bloody:

 

1. Assimilation of the Moros to the body politic, the necessary consequence of the unitary setup in this country, the legacy of colonialism in the Philippines;

 

2. Integration of Moros, which is lower or lesser in impact but still envisioned to integrate the Moros into the body politic. The era saw the creation of the Commission on National Integration (CNI) that offered scholarships, settlements, etc.;

 

3. Massive resettlement programs in Mindanao of people from Luzon and the Visayas that resulted in displacement, dispossession, and dispersions of Moros and other indigenous peoples in the region;

 

4. Genocide, as evidenced by the creation of the Ilagas, who killed thousands of Moros including children, women, and old folks, and massacres during the height of Martial Law in the 70s;

 

5. Resort to all-out wars as a national policy of the government like the ones declared in 2000 by Pres. Joseph Estrada and 2003 by Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Both resulted in thousands of lives lost or wounded, millions worth of properties lost, and a million internally displaced persons (IDPs); and

 

6. Autonomy, as in the so-called Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), is an administrative region and never autonomous.  Instead of giving genuine self-governance, it breeds in corruption never experienced in the annals of Moros in Mindanao

 

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August 17, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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