MNLF snubbed in Bangsamoro draft, Muslim leaders puzzled

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COTABATO CITY: Some leaders of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are wondering why the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) did not acknowledge their counterpart revolutionary group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) during the presentation of the new draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Malacanang on Monday.

The BBL is the enabling law of the peace compact the Philippine government and the MILF signed in 2014.
Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) chairman and MILF vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar presented to President Rodrigo Duterte the new draft BBL.

Most of the ARMM leaders and residents who heard the speech of MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim at the turn-over ceremony said they are puzzled why there was no mention of the MNLF’s role as Murad thanked the groups that helped craft the reformatted BBL comprising 18 articles.

But back in Davao City last week, Jaafar was quoted to have said they are willing to work with the MNLF following reports that the latter plans to submit its own BBL draft to the President.


Tawi-Tawi Rep. Ruby Maquiso Sahali acknowledged that at the beginning of the Murad’s speech, he made mention of “MNLF brothers and sisters” on the part of crafting a new enabling law but no specific comments.

Datu Yusoph Boyog Mama, of Masirikampo sa Marawi (traditional royal ruler of Marawi), reacting to Murad’s speech told The Manila Times that “Chairman Murad Ebrahim and the BTC is on the right footing with the final BBL draft that truly represents the collective aspirations of the Bangsamoro people towards realizing our dreams.
And although there was no personal acknowledgment of the MNLF chairman, I believe he [Murad] is highly cognizant of the important role the MNLF leadership can play through their shared cooperation.”

For Datu Ali Sangki, former executive director of the Office on Muslim Affairs and now one of the elders of Datu Abdullah Sangki municipality in Maguindanao said this could have been on the assumption that there are two road maps to peace being pursued.

”There is one for the MILF and one for the MNLF where the two Moro fronts may dove-tail their ideas under the guidance of President Duterte acting at the same time as referee to finally unite the two under a federal government,” Sangki said.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza announced last week that he has no objection to the MNLF submitting their own proposal that could be harmonized with the MILF’s draft BBL.

But he made it clear that there can be no two Bangsamoro governments since both MNLF and MILF belong to one Bangsamoro people in one territory.

Meanwhile, a Muslim leader from Tawi-Tawi who asked not to be identified said, “The MILF does not want power sharing. Expect opposition to this draft BBL from other sectors of the Muslim community.”

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