• MILF to join BIFF if peace talks fail

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    MAGUINDANAO: The attacks launched by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) of Ameril Umbra Kato were a prelude to a wider conflict if peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) bog down.

    Abdulrakman Jalil, a member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) monitoring team based in North Cotabato, said such a scenario could happen because the MILF leadership recently made a pact with Kato’s group to merge and fight the government together if the Bangsamoro framework agreement failed.

    Jalil’s information dovetailed with the claim of Ustadz Pendi Colano, chairman of the Sellatan Kutawato State Revolutionary Committee, sub-wing of the MNLF based in Central Mindanao, that a certain Abdul Kadir, an MILF leader, recently admitted that they were ready to resume attacks on government targets if the talks continue to drag and eventually collapse.

    “We are just playing along with the government’s whims because we know how big the funds OIC [Organization of Islamic Conference] member countries gave to the MILF. We also know the government won’t keep its promise to approve the framework agreement,” Colano quoted Kadir as saying during their conversation on Tuesday.

    If all the contending issues and concerns about the Bangsamoro framework agreement are not addressed properly, a “serious declaration of war” could ensue, he added.

    Internal agreement
    Colano also said he received information that the BIFF was going to sow hostilities that will displace thousands in Maguindanao province.

    He said the attacks were part of an “internal agreement” between the MILF and Kato and were meant to be used as leverage in the talks to pressure the government of President Benigno Aquino 3rd into signing the agreement.

    Colano believes the information he got was reliable because of the series of attacks by the BIFF on military and civilian targets.

    He said he believes the MILF led by Al Haj Murad and Gadzali Jaafar has a hand in the attacks “which really showed that there was an internal agreement between the BIFF and the MILF.”

    On Thursday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) leadership said the attacks launched by the BIFF were meant to sabotage the talks.

    “This only shows that BIFF forces are out there primarily to derail our current peace negotiations with the MILF,” Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, chief of the military’s Public Affairs Office, said.

    Zagala was referring to the string of bombings, the latest of which was at a restaurant in Cotabato City that left one dead and three others injured.

    He pointed out that since the government and the MILF signed the initial framework agreement last year in Malacañang, there has been relative peace in Central Mindanao. It was interrupted when the BIFF made its presence felt again before the start of Ramadan.

    The bombings also coincided with the resumption of the government’s negotiations with the MILF in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    Earlier, the spokesman of the 6th Infantry Division, Col. Dickson Hermoso, said the BIFF was “trying to get the attention of the government after they were left out of the peace talks and were declared a lawless group.”

    The 6ID has jurisdiction over Cotabato City and the rest of the provinces in Central Mindanao that include Maguindanao and Cotabato, among others.

    The BIFF was founded by Kato, a former commander of the 104th MILF base command, following disagreements with MILF leaders over the group’s negotiations with the government.

    Before the Cotabato bombings, the BIFF also clashed twice with troops from the 6ID that left one junior officer and four enlisted personnel dead.

    Committed
    MILF peace panel head Mohagher Iqbal gave his word that despite differences with the government panel, they remain committed to the peace process.

    The two sides ended their three-day exploratory talks on Thursday, which discussed, among others, the controversial wealth sharing agreement.

    In his opening statement, Iqbal mentioned that “there are many spoilers who are waiting in ambush,” referring to the delays in the resumption of the peace talks.

    “As a negotiator for more than ten years, I have learned a lot of hard lessons. My experience tells me that there is no easy part of any real life negotiation. For this reason, I know that the road ahead of the current peace talks is still full of humps and bumps,” Iqbal said.

    “But this is no reason to cause the failure of these talks. Sincere and committed partners in peace process will always find creative formula to get through any differences. If they don’t find one, this means one of the parties or both of them change policy from solving the conflict to not solving it,” he added.

    Iqbal likewise mentioned that Murad wrote a letter to President Aquino reiterating the unwavering commitment of the MILF to the peace process “but politely informed him of the growing frustration of the people and some members of the MILF as a result of the delay of the talks.”

    “The problem is that the delay is perceived not from the MILF side but from government,” Iqbal said.

    1996 peace pact
    Colano said they have been prodding Murad and Jaafar to join forces with the MNLF in urging the government to fully implement the long-standing phase 1 provisions of the final agreement signed on September 2, 1996 and to usher in the start of phase 2.

    He lamented that former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and even Aquino have ignored the 1996 peace deal.

    “The term of [the]Aquino administration is [fast]approaching [its end], and we believe that he [Aquino] could not accomplish the objectives of signing the Bangsamoro framework because there is no sign or signal that the negotiation between the MILF and the GPH would succeed because of several grounds of conflicting issues against the fundamental law of the land or [the]Constitution which needs to [be]ironed it out before both negotiating panels could agree and finally sign what have been agreed from the peace talks,” Colano said.

    Colano said Aquino must initiate a positive course of action by implementing phases 1 and 2 of the 1996 accord because it is “truly a legal and potential ground of dismissing other agreements claimed by the MILF and BIFF.”

    “Dahil lahat naman ng gustong hingin ng MILF tungkol sa agreement ay nakasaad naman sa claim ng MNLF, bakit hindi na lang ipatupad ito ng pamahalaan para matahimik na ang lahat kasi susunod naman lang itong MILF at BIFF dahil kami mismo ang gagawa ng paraan kung papaano ito masettle ang girian ng magkabilang panig” Colano said.

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    3 Comments

    1. The GPH negotiators are good in appeasement. They will give everything to MILF in the hope of stopping the war. Good luck.

    2. President Aquino and GPH have to examine and study very well the situation with this MILF. In this agreement, what is clearly left out is the Sultanate of Jolo’s claim to Sabah as theirs. Malaysia, which is not bent on giving back Sabah, is sponsoring this talks and I have a feeling that they also are financing the MILF moves, and not the MNLFs. It was very clear that in the Tripoli Accords, which were signed by the MNLF, GPH and OIC, mentions specifically the claims of the Sultanate of Jolo to Sabah.

      We, the Filipinos, are being tricked by Malaysia to hurriedly signed an Agreement with the MILF, which never mentions the case of Sabah. Then, here the MILFs and the BFFs are telling us they will combine to attack government and civilian targets. We are being blackmailed.

      Let us all stand fast and examine our options for the good of the people of the Philippines. Be wise Pinoy…

    3. Noon mnlf peace talk ok kaya lang di pumayag ang milf at humiwalay sa mnlf. Ngayon milf peace talk malapit ng matapos sana kaya lang ito na ang bimf humiwalay din sa milf. kailan kaya matatapos ang gulo sa mindanao di ba kayo napapagod?