‘Battered but not yet out’


“Battered but not yet out!”

This was the statement made by Mohaqer Iqbal, chief peace negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Friday night in the aftermath of the Mamasapano incident that killed 67 people, including 44 policemen from the Special Action Force (SAF) in Maguindanao last January 25.

The 11-hour gun battle in Mamasapano town shattered the 1997 ceasefire agreement between the government and the rebels.

The release of Iqbal’s statement coincided with the book launching marking the first anniversary of the signing of the Comprehesive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) held at the Baluarte San Diego Gardens in Intramuros, Manila.

The two books launched by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) were titled, “Getting to Peace” and ”In Defense of the Draft Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The killing of the 44 SAF troopers who were tasked to serve an arrest warrant against international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, who was hiding in Mamapasano, an MILF stronghold, has shattered the peace process and put at risk the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress.

Iqbal admitted that the BBL “is battered but it is not yet down (and) I think there is now some sort of recovery” with the hope the BBL would be passed by Congress.

“On the part of the MILF, we keep on moving, moving and moving,” Iqbal said his extemporaneous speech at the book launching.

“A year ago we started a journey to realize the dream of the people in Mindanao,” he added.

Iqbal also said he has been involved in the peace negotiations for the last 15 years to find a just and lasting solution to the Mindanao conflict.

He said the Mamapasno incident was “tragic and unfortunate.”

“On behalf of the MILF we are so sorry that many lives have died,” Iqbal said.
Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of the event, Iqbal said the MILF would stick to peace no matter what will happen on the proposed BBL.

“The way of peace will prevail over the way of war. It’s basic in the MILF and its basic in Islam that peace shall always be the agenda of the MILF, and we will stick to that no matter what happens. And the way of peace will stay until the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Mindanao,” Iqbal told reporters on Friday.

He stressed that the question now is not on how long the MILF will wait for the approval of the BBL but rather a “question of striving forward in the way of peace.”

Iqbal’s statement was also a complete turn around over the past pronouncements by the MILF that the non-passage or a watered down version of the BBL is not acceptable and may lead to more conflicts in Mindanao.

He also admitted that the leadership of the MILF has an assessment meeting on a post-BBL scenario but refused to disclose what has been discuss.

“Those are part of the whole process of the MILF leadership. They will always discuss things. Right now there is only one option and that is to push the BBL in Congress and to have it pass by Congress, meaning the only option right now is the option of peace,” Iqbal further said.

Asked if what would happen if the BBL is not pass into law, Iqbal said: “We will cross the bridge when we reach there. I don’t want to answer hypothetical question.”

The MILF, Iqbal stressed, is very optimistic that Congress would pass the BBL as it is.

“I think it would pass without being watered down because the call of the hour is peace, and peace can be achieved through the BBL, That is why we are hopeful and optimistic that Congress, despite the rumblings, will pass the BBL, he said.

Deles sees stronger BBL
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles on Friday expressed hope that the peace process will emerge stronger despite recent challenges it faced after the tragic Mamasapano incident.

“I admit we are bruised and feeling battered but we are here to proclaim we still stand firm [in pushing the peace process],” Deles, who was also in the book launch event in Intramuros, said.

“The past two months are psychologically and physically battering, but the last two weeks affirmed that the way we have responded made the process stronger,” Deles recounted the outpouring of support for the peace process from various sectors such as the academe, international community, business groups, and civil society organizations through statements of support and activities organized to advocate peace and push for the passage of the proposed BBL.

“The results will be a stronger process and a stronger BBL with more people on board,” she said.

The CAB was signed, she noted, after 17 years of negotiations between the government and the MILF.

The peace adviser recounted the events and the challenges that faced both negotiating panels before they finally signed the CAB in March 27 last year.

“We have gone through a difficult process of negotiation,” Deles said, adding that the challenges disprove those who claim the peace agreement was rushed and not carefully studied by the government.


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  1. Pass BBL. Maybe these Moro terrorists would do better under their Malaysian masters. No one likes to be governed by corrupt and thieving politicians we have today. Maybe we don’t deserve to have a country after all. If we can’t run the country properly, let others take their chances somewhere else.

  2. I have been soo anti-BBL but I just realized that these Moro terrorists would rather f…Ed themselves, than be f…ed by our corrupt and plundering politicians.

  3. P-NOY + MILF = Bodybag(Fallen 44 and Army Special forces)Still no justice for our heroes.

  4. If they were sorry and wanted peace they would hand over the murderers who went around shooting wounded SAF policeman in the head execution style.

  5. Carl Cid Inting on

    Iqbal, Deles and Ferrer are just whistling as they cross the graveyard. The graveyard of the BBL and the 44 valiant SAF troopers!

  6. Moro bandidos, terrorists and rebels are only minorities why give
    them a sub- state? This government has really gone mad.
    Cuddlers, protectors of moro terrorists.A government servile to
    terrorists to further for their own self-interest.

    • Yes the goverment gone MAD its because the peace panel are MAD same as the president is my TILILING. Look at His face the way He walks He is abnormal. He should not lead this country…

  7. Full of crap! They are so confused they no longer know what they are talking about. First the threat of war, now their tune is peace, through a comfabulation of their friends. The dye is cast NO BBL BECAUSE MILF CANNOT BE TRUSTED. Deles and Ferrer are traitors.

  8. Dominador D. Canastra on

    No one is for war and violence in MIndanao. And yes there should be a comprehensive peace agreement.
    But it must not be unconstitutional. And it must not pave the way for Mindanao to become a Malaysian colony and eventually an additional state of the Malaysian Federation.
    Murad, Jaafar, Iqbal et al. are Malaysian agents or maybe citizens! That is why former associates of theirs, like Eid Kabalu, have left the MILF.
    Talks must involved all stake holders in Mindanao–specially the Christians and the Lumads and the MNLF.

  9. words should be followed by is very difficult to earned.christian and muslim live side by side eversince all these talks were’s sad,but you only need a few twisted mind to infect many!peace,let’s spread peace.nobody can benefit from hatred and killings,it will only cause hatred and more killings.

  10. Deles still is in denial about how badly she has served Pilipinas as she accepted what Iqbal wrote to be what got submitted to Kongreso Pilipinas. The BaBaLA house bill does not have participation from lumads, from business- and civil society of Mindanao. And then this fundamental problem — the House Bill says the ARMM will get trashed by a law. ARMM is specified in Pilipinas Constitution and a constitutional amendment is needed to remove it.

  11. I don’t even have to have a thorough understanding of MILF and BBL principles to say I reject them due to The Mamasapano incident. The government/SAF commandos went to Mamasapano to arrest an international terrorist.What did MILF do? they reinforced the BIFF instead of working with the government troops and as a result killing 44 SAF commandos.If they claim Mindanao as their land then we as true Filipino citizens must also claim the Mindanao belongs to Filipinos.Body bags won’t change my mind, Mindanao is for every Filipino, if it scares and influences the President then he is indeed a weak leader because his words characterizes him as one.

  12. Peace is very important, but peace via what is written in baBALA will NOT COME. Ang problema is fundamental. The House Bill for BaBaLA has serious issues — pag-usapan pa, at hintayin ang bagong administrasyon (in 2016).
    Kailangan din na kausapin ang ibang grupo sa Mindanao — ano bang MILF lang ang kausap? Paltos kung MILF lang. Reason — sina Murad at Jaffar from the MILF, the current MLF leadership is kabig/”only for themselves”. (Okay… MILF can work with BIFF and with Malaysia… iyan lang). Current leaders of MILF do not know how to work with fellow Muslims in MNLF and other tribes; current MILF leaders do not know how to work with lumads, business-leaders and civil society.
    Quick — ilang eskuwelahan ang na-itayo ng MILF sa Maguindanao?

  13. Iqbal and Deles hope for peace. Majority of filipino people want peace to prevails. But recent MILF action shows they lack sincerity.
    Peace and sincerity is basic ingredients to solidify trust and confidence. Now the question is , should we rush to passed the BBL even if it take many years already to reach to this stage of agreement? Or after this incident should we considered looking back what still needs to be added to the BBL to calm down the fears and apprehension of what if ?? And what will?? …. If our government rush the passage of BBL laws.
    Again everybody want peace but it must not sacrifice philippines sovereignty and authority over the self rules territories if even someday the law will be passed .