ZAMBOANGA CITY: While Filipino lawmakers are arguing over the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Murad Ebrahim, the chief of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), appealed to Arab countries to help Muslims in Mindanao and prod the Philippine government to implement a peace pact it had signed with the group.
Ebrahim, who was invited to the recently concluded 42nd Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)-Council of Foreign Ministers’ Conference in Kuwait, spoke to the assembly and sought help.
In his speech, Ebrahim appealed to the OIC to urge the Philippines to fully comply with the peace agreement signed last year after lawmakers opposed to the BBL scrapped several of its provisions because they were unconstitutional.
“As we march toward the fulfillment of the implementation of the agreements we signed with the Government of the Philippines, we urge you to journey with us until we successfully implement all the agreements we signed with them. We ask you to continue to urge the Philippine Government to faithfully implement the CAB and pave the way for the establishment of the Bangsamoro Government. If, by the grace of Allah, the Bangsamoro Government is established, we strongly appeal to you to help us rebuild our communities that have been ravaged by decades of war. We ask you to welcome us in the community of Muslims, establishing relations and building cultural links to our cities and your countries,” he said.
CAB is the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which counts the BBL as one of its products.
Ebrahim said the peace accord will ease the volatile security situation in southern Mindanao where military forces are struggling to fight home-grown terrorism and communist and Muslim insurgencies.
“The Muslims in Mindanao have long craved development, physically and mentally. And it is hoped that it will be delivered in the form of peace dividends as the fruits of the current peace process. We, the Bangsamoro, have always recognized the importance of economic development and political stability as the pillars to a sustainable development. In order to achieve that, we will have to make sure that situation is conducive for future investments and businesses. There is no alternative to that since failure to do so would mean the failure of the Bangsamoro and the Muslims,” he added.
Ebrahim said there is a need for international help in Mindanao, home to about 2 million Muslims, for peace and development projects, and although the government pledged to provide more aid and billions of pesos to the proposed Bangsamoro region, he said it is not enough.
“Despite our tireless efforts, the Bangsamoro will remain as just another dream if it is not supported with equal financial commitments,” the MILF leader pointed out.
“Although the government has pledged to provide the necessary funding but we fully understand the financial constraints that they face since we are talking about an amount that could reach hundreds of billions of dollars. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to humbly request the OIC member-states and affiliated institutions to help us. We would welcome any kind of financial assistances and investments. And on our part, we will give our level best to live up to your expectations,” Ebrahim said.