Point man for ‘closure’ with MNLF named by Palace

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MALACAÑANG on Friday said it has begun the “closure process” with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) of Nur Misuari, who ordered his fighters to attack Zamboanga City in September in retaliation for the government’s failure to fully implement the 1996 peace agreement with the MNLF.

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In a press briefing, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said President Benigno Aquino 3rd has appointed Zenonida Brosas as deputy director general of the National Security Council (NSC) in charge of carrying out “closure modalities for existing peace agreements.”

Brosas will also handle the administrative operations of the NSC and the Presidential Situation Room.

A briefer distributed by the Palace indicated that Brosas will represent the council in the joint meetings of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Philippine government and the MNLF.

She will also chair the technical working group on the normalization annex of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro. The group will draft the annex for the decommissioning of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) forces and arms.

Brosas will also be in charge of “monitoring the government’s peace programs and serves as technical resource person to the Peace Panels specifically on the drafting and preparation of peace agreements . . . and the implementation of closure modalities for existing peace agreements,” the briefer indicated.

Brosas’ appointment came after the government and MILF panels signed the power-sharing agreement, a step closer to the signing of the final pact with the MILF, which includes the establishment of a Bangsamoro political entity.

This means the 1996 peace deal would be set aside in favor of the new agreement with the MILF, something that could further infuriate Misuari and his MNLF followers.

Believing that the pact MNLF signed with then President Fidel Ramos in 1996 would be junked, Misuari declared independence and announced the establishment of a Bangsamoro Republik.

On September 9, MNLF forces marched into Zamboanga City and occupied several barangays. It took almost a month of bloody clashes before government troops drove them out.

Misuari has since gone into hiding and was even reported to have fled the country.

Misuari had railed at the reported plan of the Aquino government to put a closure to the tripartite review that will implement the 1996 peace agreement, a task that now rests on Brosas’ shoulder.

The MNLF was worried that the negotiations with the MILF would undermine the MNLF’s political influence.

Miriam Coronel Ferrer, an official of the government peace panel, said Misuari has only himself to blame for failing to see fruition of the 1996 peace agreement because of “ignorance.”

She stressed the agreement has been largely implemented with the creation of the Southern Philippine Council for Peace and Development, the amendments to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao law, the integration of MNLF forces into the military and police organizations and the introduction of livelihood programs for MNLF base commands.

“They missed out on what was common sense to a lot of ordinary people: that Misuari had been given the chance to prove his worth as a leader of the ARMM but failed,” Coronel Ferrer said.

Aside from her role as OIC representative and architect of the “disarmament” of MILF forces, Brosas is “basically in charge of the preparation of the daily information and intelligence requirements of the President and the National Security Adviser, which involves the monitoring and assessment of local and foreign developments bearing on national security,” the Malacañang briefer said.

As executive director of the President’s situation room, she will also be responsible for “monitoring of events and situations bearing on national security and providing he President situational awareness 24 hours, seven days a week.”

An economic degree holder from the University of the Philippines, Brosas holds various certificates in security studies abroad, including the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu. Hawaii; the Swedish National defense College in Stockholm; the Norwegian Defense International Center on Norway; and she also studied in Germany, Brussels and Geneva.

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