HALF of the members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) are gearing up for clashes with the government over the Aquino administration’s failure to implement the peace agreement with the MNLF in 1996.
The Selatan Kutawato State Revolutionary Committee (SKSRC), a faction of the MNLF based in Central Mindanao, said MNLF leaders are having a hard time restraining their members who resent the non-implementation of the pact.
The MNLF is reported to have at least 70,000 members.
Ustadz Pendi Colano, SKSRC overall chairman, said thousands of their forces have been agitating to declare their independence because they feel that President Benigno Aquino 3rd has turned his back on the MNLF agreement and is more interested in the peace deal the government is finalizing with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Colano said MNLF Vice Chairman Jimmy Labawan has warned the Aquino government to heed the demand of the MNLF to fully implement the 1996 agreement because ignoring the group could lead to a bigger conflict in Mindanao.
The SKSRC leader said Colano also expressed no guarantee that he could control their commanders and their men should they decide to declare war on the government. The MNLF believes that Aquino should have first made sure that the 1996 pact was implemented before forging another deal with the MILF.
The group also rejected proposals to merge the two agreements.
“President Aquino’s intent to integrate the 1996 agreement with the MILF Bangsamoro Framework Agreement [BAF] is to show that he [Aquino] did not violate the peace deal with the MNLF,” Colano said.
The restiveness in the MNLF surfaced at the series of consultative assemblies in Central and Southern Mindanao. In those meetings, MNLF members said they are ready to declare independence and take up arms against the government.
“Some MNLF senior leaders in the central committee are advising the MNLF commanders on the ground to keep calm but we sensed it would be of no use because if Aquino fails [to implement]the 1996 peace agreement and the MILF Bangsamoro Framework Agreement [is enforced]then these MNLF will engage in a wider war against the present administration,” Colano said.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles on Sunday denied the government was scrapping the 1996 agreement and blamed MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari for derailing the three-way talks between the MNLF, government and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Deles said it was the Misuari faction that sabotaged the talks when they attacked Zamboanga City last year.
She said it was now up to the OIC “to convene the parties as we have officially and repeatedly requested them to do in accordance with the OIC resolution issued last December.”