• MILF to stay beyond peace agreement, to evolve in political party

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    ZAMBOANGA CITY: The Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front said it would continue to exist even beyond the signing of the peace accord with Manila and would eventually evolved into a ‘principled’ political party.

    The MILF is currently negotiating peace with the Aquino government and negotiators are on the final leg of their talks and that a comprehensive accord is likely to be completed before the year ends.

    “Contrary to what many may have believed innocently or otherwise, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will continue to exist even during or after the implementation of a Bangsamoro Government in the future Bangsamoro territory.”

    “The MILF is a movement which has ideology and programs of action that it pursues through to the end. If however in the beginning it pursues its aims through armed struggle, but the moment the (Philippine) Government and the MILF finally sign the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, it will become a social movement that will continue to pursue its aims through democratic means. And one way to promote and realize this is through the organization of a principled political party that would engage in elections,” it said.

    The rebel group has not joined politics in the past, saying it does not recognize the Philippine Constitution, and even warned its members repeatedly from running in any elective positions.

    The MILF also cautioned journalists in their reporting on the peace talks after a national newspaper interview misquoted a senior rebel leader, Mohagher Iqbal, who is also the chairman of the peace panel.

    Part of the news article said the establishment of the Bangsamoro political entity would render the MILF insignificant or eventually dissolved.

    “I could not imagine that such attribution can be made when the correct ideological and political lines on issues like this are in our fingertips. Never in the wildest dream of real leaders can that such irresponsible statement come into their inner thoughts. Unimaginable! Similarly, we cannot believe that such a gross misquotation can be made at all,” Iqbal said in an editorial posted on the MILF website.

    Last year, the peace panels signed the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement which would pave the way for the Muslim homeland. Under the accord, the Bangsamoro government would take a ministerial form, where members of the legislature who would be elected by the people and in return they would elect a chief minister among themselves.

    Philippines and MILF negotiators last month ended peace talks in Kuala Lumpur without a substantial agreement, especially on the remaining annexes on power-sharing and normalization.

    Negotiators are still locked on how to go about the power-sharing which represents the heart of the peace negotiations since it contains the list of powers reserved for the central government, powers exclusive to the envisioned Bangsamoro government, and concurrent or shared powers between the two. Any delay in the peace talks would impede the working timeline of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, the body tasked to draft the Basic Law. AL JACINTO

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