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MILF Statement on the Aborted MOA-AD Formal Signing

 The aborted formal signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) due to the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Philippine Supreme Court on the eve of the ceremony scheduled for that purpose on August 5, 2008 in Kuala Lumpur does not in any way alter the fact that the pact is a done deal.


On July 27, 2008, Secretary Rodolfo Garcia, GRP chief negotiator, and Secretary Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process, initialed the document for the GRP while Mohagher Iqbal, MILF Panel chair, initialed for the MILF, and Datuk Othman bin Abdulrazak, the third party chief facilitator, for the Malaysian government. This makes the MOA-AD binding and executory on the contracting parties. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in her State of the Nation Address on July 28, 2008, had alluded to this momentous event by acknowledging the resolution of the Ancestral Domain issue.


In this context, it makes no difference to the MILF whether a signing takes place or not. The signing ceremony is a mere formality, the absence of which does not diminish, invalidate or cancel the MOA-AD. The MOA-AD is the textual version of the consensus points arrived at by both Parties through a long process of negotiations beginning in 2004 as a consequence of the inclusion of Ancestral Domain as the third aspect in the MILF-GRP Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001.


On the other hand, the Supreme Court TRO is a product of the on-going political intramurals within the GRP; therefore it is not binding on the MILF, which is a revolutionary liberation organization of the Bangsamoro people.


By aborting the signing ceremony, the GRP has utterly discredited itself before the international community. Even if the GRP attempts to assuage the diplomatic and political faux pas caused by the last-minute cancellation of the signing ceremony, it is now clear to the international community, let alone the Government of Malaysia which was hosting the aborted historic event, and the Bangsamoro people that the GRP does not possess the capability of entering into a peace agreement. Therefore the firm commitment and political will to honor signed agreements with the Moro liberation movement by the GRP is under suspect of doubt by the international community.


Under this circumstance, the MILF has gained a significant moral and political victory in this latest chapter of its historic struggle to resolve the conflict in Mindanao on the negotiating table. From such a victory, the MILF, as its policy dictates, will still pursue the peace process to bring an end to the conflict without, however, losing sight of alternative means to achieve freedom and justice for the Bangsamoro people.


Mohagher Iqbal
Chair, MILF Peace Negotiating Panel
Putrajaya, Malaysia, August 5, 2008



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