NEWS ANALYSIS: WILL PEACE PACT WITH MILF FINALLY BRING PEACE TO MINDANAO?

After 17 years of on-and-off negotiations, the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) finally signed Thursday the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that both sides said would put an end to the decades-old conflict in Mindanao. The peace accord was signed by Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chief government negotiator, and Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief negotiator, at a ceremony held in Malacanang presidential palace. President Benigno Aquino III, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim led some 1,000 congressional members, government officials, and foreign dignitaries in witnessing the signing ceremony. In his remarks, Aquino said that the agreement stands as a testament on how far trust and earnestness can move humanity forward. "It shows how righteousness, reason and goodwill are the mightiest of instruments of ending conflict," he said. Both sides said that they expect to finish the basic law for the Bangsamoro by March 31. The draft of the law that would officially establish the Bangsamoro, a political entity that would have some federal-type sovereign powers, will be submitted to the Philippine Congress for approval. If passed, it will still be submitted to the people in the predominantly Muslim areas in Mindanao for their approval through a plebiscite. Both the government and the MILF have said that the agreement will be the key to the peace, progress and development of Mindanao. The peace accord is also aimed at ending an insurgency in Mindanao that has left an estimated 150,000 people dead since 1970s. But realities on the ground may not bolster the optimism for peace of both the government and the MILF. Nur Misuari, the acknowledged father of the Muslim rebellion in the Philippines, has vehemently opposed the peace accord. In its editorial today, the Manila Times, a leading daily in Manila, said that pragmatically, Aquino and his aides have made the MILF people believe that he could deliver what he had promised to them. "Of course, he can't. We pray the result is not the MILF's feared eruption of violence, chaos and anarchy in Mindanao," the editorial warned.

ALSO: Breakaway rebel leader determined to fight on

A day after his former comrades in arms signed a treaty to end 42 years of bloodshed in the Philippines, an ageing Muslim guerrilla leader packing a rusty handgun vowed to fight on. “We want independence . . . through armed struggle,” Abu Missry Mama, spokesman and senior leader of the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), told Agence France-Presse on a visit to his rural stronghold in the south. Mama’s former comrades in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a peace treaty on Thursday that is expected to see them gain power under a self-rule setup in the nation’s Muslim-populated southern areas. Mama, 62, is the public face of the BIFF, which split from the 10,000-member MILF in 2008 amid a row on how best to advance the interests of the 10 million Filipino Muslims. The Muslim rebellion that began in 1972 left tens of thousands of people dead and consigned the area of the proposed autonomous region to brutal poverty and lawlessness. Wearing rubber flip-flops, horn-rimmed glasses and a colorful scarf atop a bronzed and craggy face, Mama casually rode a motorcycle Friday through dirt roads bisecting green rice paddies. A rusty .45-caliber pistol was stuck in his holster as he led visitors to an empty schoolyard, about three-and-a-half hours’ drive from a major southern city. Fifteen similarly dressed guerrillas, carrying assault rifles, emerged from nowhere to stand guard as he spoke to Agence France Presse for half an hour. Nearby, a group of young men played basketball and residents sat by their windows or in front of their wood and straw huts in the late afternoon. “The MILF have their own way and we have mine too,” said Mama, who spoke fluent English and Filipino. He said he fought for the MILF and was now the number-three leader of the BIFF under its founder Ameril Umrakato, who the military said has been incapacitated by illness.

ALSO: Sulu sultanate warns of war

Members of the so-called Royal Security Force of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo on Friday warned Manila that violence may erupt in southern Philippines if President Benigno Aquino 3rd fails to support their long-standing historical claim to the island of Sabah, now a state forming part of Malaysia. In a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner a day after the historic signing by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, a “General” Panglima, who identified himself as a leader of the security force, accused the Aquino administration of ignoring the claim by the sultanate to Sabah, whose historical name was Borneo. “Nananawagan kami sa pamahalaan na sana po gawin nila o hanapan na lang ng paraan ang isyu na ito at huwag naman nila ito isantabi. One year na kami sa giyera at naghihintay mula nang sumiklab ang gulo sa Sabah noong February 2013 at 2014 na ngayon ay wala pa ring action ang pamahalaan ukol dito sa Sabah claim [We are calling on the government to not set aside this issue. We have been at war for one year and have been waiting for government action on our claim since violence erupted in Sabah in February 2013 and in 2014],” Panglima said. He did not say how many men the Royal Security Force commands but are seen to number in the hundreds based on a deployment of fighters in early 2013. In February last year, the ailing Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, of the Sultanate of Sulu, sent about 200 followers headed by his brother Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram to Sabah to assert their claim to and supposed historical rights over the state.
Sultan Jamalul’s group rejected Malaysian demand for them to surrender peacefully and fighting erupted in Lahad Datu town where more than 60 of the sultan’s men were killed and over 300 Filipinos arrested on suspicion that they were aiding the group of Raja Muda Agbimuddin.READ MORE...

EDITORIAL: Congratulations to OPAPP-MILF

WE are not congratulating the Filipino people, our Republic, or the entirety of our Muslim Filipino compatriots for the historic event that is happening this afternoon in Malacañang. We are only congratulating, the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process—Secretary Teresita Deles, Chief Negotiator for the Philippine government Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and her predecessors—and the entire Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leadership, specially Chief Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal and the MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim. Oh, yes, President Benigno Aquino the 3rd must also be congratulated. Also deserving of congratulations are the governments, ambassadors and Philippine case officers of the foreign countries who have been assiduously nursing the negotiations and spending money to make sure it didn’t bomb. Deserving of special mention here are the delegates of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan. Rough road ahead: Today’s signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between our government and the MILF is another “first step” to lasting Mindanao peace, sustainable development and victory over dire poverty there specially among our Muslim fellow-Filipinos but also among Christians. The Bangsamoro Autonomous Entity must have a fundamental or basic law or mini-constitution that conforms and complies with the provisions and state policies laid out in the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines. President Aquino appointed a Transition Commission made up of MILF leaders and supported by MILF political thinkers, social scientists, lawyers, politicians and rebel chieftains to draft that Bangsamoro Basic Law. Will it represent the aspirations of all the Muslim Filipinos—including those who, being Tausugs, Yakan, Samal etc. of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Sabah (North Borneo), don’t want to be placed under the rule of their traditional rivals, Maranaws and Maguindanaws? Will it give due respect to the Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo, whose transfer of his sovereignty over Sabah to the Philippines before the British created the Malaysian Federation strengthened the legal aspects of the Philippine claim to Sabah? Will the Bangsamoro Basic Law have a provision stating that Sabah is part of the Philippine territory—or is this taboo on the behest of the Malaysian Facilator of the negotiations held in Kuala Lumpur?
Can a president just trample on the 1996 Comprehensive Peace Agreement with the MNLF and its antecedent Tripoli and Jakarta treaties?  READ BELOW

LUWARAN.COM EDITORIAL: Real partnership begins

All systems go for the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) on March 27, 2014. God willing, it is only a matter of five days from now before this historic moment takes place. This achievement is one for a lifetime. Imagine this agreement was only signed after more than 16 long years of off-and-on battles in the negotiating table. By any stretch of imagination, this hard, complex, and almost futile exercise cannot be repeated in a generation. In fact, many of the negotiators from both the MILF and the government have died already. They were not lucky enough to see and witness this history in the making in this country. If the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) had started their negotiations from two opposing hard positions and continued it through thick and thin, the signing of the CAB is truly a defining moment that they can be proud of with heads high. For one, this signals the dawning of the real partnership between the two parties that they must nurture through to the end. Thus, this partnership has to be real and genuine. Gone are the days when mistrust and reservation are the rule between negotiators whose motive is to outwit the opponent in order to win. Without saying, a weak partner will pave the way for anarchy to rule the day and chances that a more dangerous place is not farfetched in Mindanao. This fear is compounded after the exit of President Benigno Aquino in 2016. If the new president does not follow through with the achievements of the peace process and genuinely adopts a policy of empowering the MILF and henceforth the Bangsamoro Government, then the future is truly bleak.

ALSO: Muslims, leftists clash in Mendiola

Hours before the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed the Bangsamoro peace deal at Malacañang yesterday, supporters of the peace pact clashed with National Democratic Front (NDF) militants in Mendiola. At least 10 persons were reportedly injured in the incident that occurred at about 10 a.m. when around 100 militant supporters of the NDF, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, arrived near the Mendiola peace arch where more than a thousand Muslims were praying and reading the Koran. Ground commander Superintendent Bert Esusan downplayed the incident, describing the incident as a mere misunderstanding between the two groups. But a witness told The STAR that before the encounter, the Muslims were praying quietly as they waited for the historic signing of the peace agreement. He said the mood was also festive as the Bangsamoro supporters celebrated what they called a chance to finally bring lasting peace in Mindanao. The Bangsamoro peace caravan started Wednesday night and continued until yesterday. By around 10 a.m., the witness said, more than 100 NDF supporters, mostly wearing masks, arrived chanting and waving their red banner. They also brought loudspeakers that drowned out all other sounds in Mendiola, including the voices of the praying Muslims. Musa Sultan, a leader of Saksi Islamic Radio Forum based in Lanao, said they did not know that the other group was a supporter of the communist movement. Sultan said when they arrived at Legarda, a group carrying red flags blocked and tried to prevent them from joining other groups who were praying. READ MORE


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News Analysis: Will peace pact with MILF finally bring peace to Mindanao?

MANILA, MARCH 31, 2014 (PHILSTAR) (Xinhua) - After 17 years of on-and-off negotiations, the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) finally signed Thursday the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that both sides said would put an end to the decades-old conflict in Mindanao.

The peace accord was signed by Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chief government negotiator, and Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief negotiator, at a ceremony held in Malacanang presidential palace.

President Benigno Aquino III, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim led some 1,000 congressional members, government officials, and foreign dignitaries in witnessing the signing ceremony.

In his remarks, Aquino said that the agreement stands as a testament on how far trust and earnestness can move humanity forward. "It shows how righteousness, reason and goodwill are the mightiest of instruments of ending conflict," he said.

Both sides said that they expect to finish the basic law for the Bangsamoro by March 31. The draft of the law that would officially establish the Bangsamoro, a political entity that would have some federal-type sovereign powers, will be submitted to the Philippine Congress for approval.

If passed, it will still be submitted to the people in the predominantly Muslim areas in Mindanao for their approval through a plebiscite.

Both the government and the MILF have said that the agreement will be the key to the peace, progress and development of Mindanao.

The peace accord is also aimed at ending an insurgency in Mindanao that has left an estimated 150,000 people dead since 1970s.

But realities on the ground may not bolster the optimism for peace of both the government and the MILF.

Nur Misuari, the acknowledged father of the Muslim rebellion in the Philippines, has vehemently opposed the peace accord.

Misuari, who founded the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the forerunner of the MILF, claimed that the government has reneged on its promises set forth in the l996 peace accord signed by the MNLF and the government.

During the tenure of former President Fidel V. Ramos, Misuari signed a peace pact with government that resulted in the establishment of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). But after the signing, the group's top commanders, including Murad Ebrahim, who wanted a separate Muslim state, bolted out and formed the MILF.

Despite the emergence of the so-called splinter MNLF groups, Misuari is still a force to reckon with. In September last year, he ordered some 300 armed MNLF guerrillas to "invade" Zamboanga City just across the island province of Sulu, the MNLF's stronghold. It took the government about one month to end the siege of Zamboanga, leaving some 200 dead and thousands of city residents displaced.

Misuari has been charged with rebellion but he is still at large. Some of his followers say that he is just inside the country and could be planning another coordinated attack similar to what he did in Zamboanga.

Understandably, officials and residents of Zamboanga City, with only a few villages dominated by Muslims, are strongly against the plan to include them in the Bangsamoro.

Aside from the MNLF, the other "spoilers" in the quest for peace in Mindanao are the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters ( BIFF), a renegade group of ragtag Muslim guerrillas led by Ombra Kato, a former top MILF commander, and the Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist group based in the island-province of Basilan in Mindanao reportedly linked to the Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiyah and the Al-Qaida.

In the legal front, it is by no means smooth sailing for the peace pact. Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, now the opposition leader in the Senate, has said that the peace agreement should be studied carefully because the proposed Bangsamoro entity may violate the territorial provisions in the Constitution.

Some groups have already expressed their desire to question the legality of the creation of Bangsamoro in the Supreme Court once its organic law is passed.

In 2008, the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a similar version of the CAB, the establishment of the Bangsamoro juridical entity that was crafted by the government of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the same MILF leaders.

Some analysts said that the rejoicing at the signing of the CAB could be premature because many things can still happen.

In its editorial today, the Manila Times, a leading daily in Manila, said that pragmatically, Aquino and his aides have made the MILF people believe that he could deliver what he had promised to them.

"Of course, he can't. We pray the result is not the MILF's feared eruption of violence, chaos and anarchy in Mindanao," the editorial warned.

FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Breakaway rebel leader determined to fight on March 29, 2014 11:54 pm


Abu Missry Mama, interviewed somewhere in Maguindanao, “ says the BIFF “wants independence . . . through armed struggle.” AFP photo

MAGUINDANAO: A day after his former comrades in arms signed a treaty to end 42 years of bloodshed in the Philippines, an ageing Muslim guerrilla leader packing a rusty handgun vowed to fight on.

“We want independence . . . through armed struggle,” Abu Missry Mama, spokesman and senior leader of the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), told Agence France-Presse on a visit to his rural stronghold in the south.

Mama’s former comrades in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a peace treaty on Thursday that is expected to see them gain power under a self-rule setup in the nation’s Muslim-populated southern areas.

Mama, 62, is the public face of the BIFF, which split from the 10,000-member MILF in 2008 amid a row on how best to advance the interests of the 10 million Filipino Muslims.

The Muslim rebellion that began in 1972 left tens of thousands of people dead and consigned the area of the proposed autonomous region to brutal poverty and lawlessness.

Wearing rubber flip-flops, horn-rimmed glasses and a colorful scarf atop a bronzed and craggy face, Mama casually rode a motorcycle Friday through dirt roads bisecting green rice paddies.

A rusty .45-caliber pistol was stuck in his holster as he led visitors to an empty schoolyard, about three-and-a-half hours’ drive from a major southern city.

Fifteen similarly dressed guerrillas, carrying assault rifles, emerged from nowhere to stand guard as he spoke to Agence France Presse for half an hour.

Nearby, a group of young men played basketball and residents sat by their windows or in front of their wood and straw huts in the late afternoon.

“The MILF have their own way and we have mine too,” said Mama, who spoke fluent English and Filipino.

He said he fought for the MILF and was now the number-three leader of the BIFF under its founder Ameril Umrakato, who the military said has been incapacitated by illness.

The BIFF founder was accused of leading his men in attacks across the south in 2008 that left more than 400 people dead and displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians.

The farming region is dotted by small military camps and checkpoints.

Small military units and motorists have been frequent targets of deadly BIFF attacks as the group sought to disrupt the peace process, somehow withstanding repeated government assaults against it.

As he presided over the peace treaty signing in Manila on Thursday, President Benigno Aquino 3rd vowed that armed opponents of the pact “will be met with a firm response based on righteousness and justice”.

After more than 50 of its members were killed in a major military operation in late January, the BIFF has about 460 guerrillas left, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala told Agence France-Presse.

“We have diminished their threat but we are still monitoring them because of the possibility that they will continue to spurn the peace,” Zagala said, adding they were now led by a man named Mohiden Animbang, alias “Karialan”.

Zagala said Mama was apparently an alias and the man was considered by the military as a BIFF spokesman.

Mama said the BIFF would only consider peace talks if the government would allow the creation of a separate Muslim nation, something Aquino has ruled out.

“There would be no condition in the talks. They just have to leave our homeland,” Mama said.
AFP

Sulu sultanate warns of war March 28, 2014 10:56 pm by Al Jacinto Correspondent


In 2013, Malaysian troops opened fire on the Sulu sultanate fighters that occupied a town in Sabah. Almost 60 of the fighters were killed in the clashes that lasted about a month. AFP PHOTO

ZAMBOANGA CITY: Members of the so-called Royal Security Force of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo on Friday warned Manila that violence may erupt in southern Philippines if President Benigno Aquino 3rd fails to support their long-standing historical claim to the island of Sabah, now a state forming part of Malaysia.

In a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner a day after the historic signing by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, a “General” Panglima, who identified himself as a leader of the security force, accused the Aquino administration of ignoring the claim by the sultanate to Sabah, whose historical name was Borneo.

“Nananawagan kami sa pamahalaan na sana po gawin nila o hanapan na lang ng paraan ang isyu na ito at huwag naman nila ito isantabi. One year na kami sa giyera at naghihintay mula nang sumiklab ang gulo sa Sabah noong February 2013 at 2014 na ngayon ay wala pa ring action ang pamahalaan ukol dito sa Sabah claim [We are calling on the government to not set aside this issue. We have been at war for one year and have been waiting for government action on our claim since violence erupted in Sabah in February 2013 and in 2014],” Panglima said.

He did not say how many men the Royal Security Force commands but are seen to number in the hundreds based on a deployment of fighters in early 2013.

In February last year, the ailing Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, of the Sultanate of Sulu, sent about 200 followers headed by his brother Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram to Sabah to assert their claim to and supposed historical rights over the state.

Sultan Jamalul’s group rejected Malaysian demand for them to surrender peacefully and fighting erupted in Lahad Datu town where more than 60 of the sultan’s men were killed and over 300 Filipinos arrested on suspicion that they were aiding the group of Raja Muda Agbimuddin.

Malaysia also put Sultan Jamalul and his brother on its wanted list and branded them as terrorists for intruding into Sabah and killing and decapitating 10 policemen and soldiers in separate clashes on the island.

Raja Muda Agbimuddin managed to escape the Malaysian assault in Sabah, while Sultan Jamalul died in October last year from a lingering illness at age 75.

Panglima in his statement said Manila failed or refused to help members of the sultanate and Filipinos who were said to be illegally detained in Sabah in connection with the fighting last year.

“The government ignored our claim. It still did not listen to us even after Sultan Jamalul died. The government wants to talk only about violence, which we are capable of creating throughout Mindanao, despite the government belittling our group, and so we call on the government to help us in our claim. Let us help each other and unite for all Filipinos, Christian and Muslim are brothers and are of one blood,” he added.

The Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo continues to lay claim to Sabah. It obtained Sabah from Brunei as a gift for helping put down a rebellion on Borneo island. The British leased Sabah and transferred control over the territory to Malaysia after the end of World War II.

But the sultanate said it had merely leased North Borneo in 1878 to the British North Borneo Company for an annual payment of 5,000 Malayan dollars then, which was increased to 5,300 Malayan dollars in 1903.

The Sultanate of Sulu was founded in 1457 and is believed to exist as a sovereign nation for at least 442 years. It stretches from a part of the island of Mindanao in the east, to Sabah, in the west and south, and to Palawan, in the north. North Borneo was annexed by Malaysia in 1963 after a referendum organized by the Cobbold Commission in 1962 saw the people of Sabah voting overwhelmingly to join Malaysia.

Malaysia continued paying the sultanate 5,300 ringgits a year on the basis of the Sulu royals’ ceding the Borneo state.
It brokered peace negotiations between the government and the MILF that led to the signing of the peace agreement on Thursday.

 

EDITORIAL:

Congratulations, OPAPP-MILF March 26, 2014 10:13 pm

WE are not congratulating the Filipino people, our Republic, or the entirety of our Muslim Filipino compatriots for the historic event that is happening this afternoon in Malacañang.

We are only congratulating, the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process—Secretary Teresita Deles, Chief Negotiator for the Philippine government Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and her predecessors—and the entire Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leadership, specially Chief Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal and the MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim. Oh, yes, President Benigno Aquino the 3rd must also be congratulated.

Also deserving of congratulations are the governments, ambassadors and Philippine case officers of the foreign countries who have been assiduously nursing the negotiations and spending money to make sure it didn’t bomb.

Deserving of special mention here are the delegates of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan. Japan has even allocated a hefty sum of several billions for developmental projects in Mindanao as if already in existence is the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous (or is it “Semi-Autonomous”) Entity that will include and subsume the “failed experiment” (President Aquino’s withering words) that is the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

These countries not only want to see an end to the suffering of the people of Mindanao. They also want to do brisk global commerce and, of course, make money from it in Mindanao, which has the potential to push intra-Asean commerce and benefit the global economy. If the whole Philippines continues to be the laggard in Asean and holds back its becoming the economic hope of the globe, then maybe the Bangsamoro will be that autonomous part of the Philippines that will fulfill our country’s promise as an able contributor to the Asean Common Market.

Rough road ahead
Today’s signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between our government and the MILF is another “first step” to lasting Mindanao peace, sustainable development and victory over dire poverty there specially among our Muslim fellow-Filipinos but also among Christians.

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Entity must have a fundamental or basic law or mini-constitution that conforms and complies with the provisions and state policies laid out in the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines. President Aquino appointed a Transition Commission made up of MILF leaders and supported by MILF political thinkers, social scientists, lawyers, politicians and rebel chieftains to draft that Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Will it represent the aspirations of all the Muslim Filipinos—including those who, being Tausugs, Yakan, Samal etc. of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Sabah (North Borneo), don’t want to be placed under the rule of their traditional rivals, Maranaws and Maguindanaws?

Will it give due respect to the Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo, whose transfer of his sovereignty over Sabah to the Philippines before the British created the Malaysian Federation strengthened the legal aspects of the Philippine claim to Sabah?

Will the Bangsamoro Basic Law have a provision stating that Sabah is part of the Philippine territory—or is this taboo on the behest of the Malaysian Facilator of the negotiations held in Kuala Lumpur?

Will the Congress of the Republic of the Philippines pass the legislation adopting the Bangsamoro Basic Law?

Will President BS Aquino succeed in buying the congressmen’s and senator’s votes as he did to ensure the ouster of Chief Justice R. Corona?

If Congress does pass the law, will the Filipino people accept the threat of future fragmentation that the Bangsamoro Entity represents and ratify the law that amends the Philippine Constitution radically?

Will the Supreme Court allow the Philippine Republic to be undermined by these things? Can the constitutional provisions and the laws creating the ARMM just be shunted aside by a president and his OPAPP and his Muslim rebel friends and their Malaysian backers?

Can a president just trample on the 1996 Comprehensive Peace Agreement with the MNLF and its antecedent Tripoli and Jakarta treaties?

These are but a few of the deep issues that must be resolved if the GPH-MILF agreements are to carried out peacefully and work for the good of the Filipino people and not just the MILF.

Strong rule—Martial Law in Mindanao?

The Luwaran (the online publication of the MILF) published last Tuesday, March 25, an enlightening albeit frightening editorial. It is titled “Real partnership begins.”

It calls today’s signing rites of the CAB a “historic moment” and a “one for a lifetime achievement.” It “signals the dawning of the real partnership between the two parties that they must nurture through to the end.”

Note that the MILF does not see this event as a covenant between the Muslim Filipinos and the Christian and tribal Filipinos. It sees it realistically as the “partnership between two parties” –the Aquino administration and the MILF.

It says “both sides have to help one another. Needless to say, the MILF has to be helped to stand on its feet so that it is fully capacitated to stave-off the challenges ahead. Only two capable partners can ensure the success of their peace endeavor.”

It says “a weak partner will pave the way for anarchy to rule the day and chances that a more dangerous place is not farfetched in Mindanao.” Therefore it wishes President Aquino to be strong in quashing the foes of this agreement.

The editorial also says “this fear [that Mindanao will explode into anarchy and become a more dangerous place] is compounded after the exit of President Benigno Aquino in 2016.”

Therefore the new president must “follow through with the achievements of the peace process and genuinely adopt a policy of empowering the MILF and henceforth the Bangsamoro Government” otherwise “the future is truly bleak.”

Martial law in Mindanao—with Aquino’s AFP, PNP and MILF working together to quell the opposition?

FROM LUWARAN.COM WEBSITE

REAL PARTNERSHIP BEGINS Tuesday, Mar 25 2014 Written by Editorial Desk Print Email :: Marsch 16-22, 2014 ::

All systems go for the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) on March 27, 2014. God willing, it is only a matter of five days from now before this historic moment takes place. This achievement is one for a lifetime.

Imagine this agreement was only signed after more than 16 long years of off-and-on battles in the negotiating table.

By any stretch of imagination, this hard, complex, and almost futile exercise cannot be repeated in a generation. In fact, many of the negotiators from both the MILF and the government have died already. They were not lucky enough to see and witness this history in the making in this country.

If the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) had started their negotiations from two opposing hard positions and continued it through thick and thin, the signing of the CAB is truly a defining moment that they can be proud of with heads high.

For one, this signals the dawning of the real partnership between the two parties that they must nurture through to the end.

Thus, this partnership has to be real and genuine.

Gone are the days when mistrust and reservation are the rule between negotiators whose motive is to outwit the opponent in order to win. Both sides especially their negotiators have to open up with each other and must continue to undertake problem-solving approaches.

Moreover, both sides have to help one another. Needless to say, the MILF has to be helped to stand on its feet so that it is fully capacitated to stave-off the challenges ahead. Only two capable partners can ensure the success of their peace endeavor.

Without saying, a weak partner will pave the way for anarchy to rule the day and chances that a more dangerous place is not farfetched in Mindanao.

This fear is compounded after the exit of President Benigno Aquino in 2016. If the new president does not follow through with the achievements of the peace process and genuinely adopts a policy of empowering the MILF and henceforth the Bangsamoro Government, then the future is truly bleak.

This is the reason why the 2016 presidential election is truly material to the future of the Bangsamoro. We can only hope that those who run for president will adopt a policy of fully supporting the Bangsamoro and not to undermine it in any manner or form

FROM PHILSTAR

Muslims, leftists clash in Mendiola By Aie Balagtas See (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 28, 2014 - 12:00am 19 9 googleplus1 0

MANILA, Philippines - Hours before the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed the Bangsamoro peace deal at Malacañang yesterday, supporters of the peace pact clashed with National Democratic Front (NDF) militants in Mendiola.

At least 10 persons were reportedly injured in the incident that occurred at about 10 a.m. when around 100 militant supporters of the NDF, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, arrived near the Mendiola peace arch where more than a thousand Muslims were praying and reading the Koran.

Ground commander Superintendent Bert Esusan downplayed the incident, describing the incident as a mere misunderstanding between the two groups.

But a witness told The STAR that before the encounter, the Muslims were praying quietly as they waited for the historic signing of the peace agreement.

He said the mood was also festive as the Bangsamoro supporters celebrated what they called a chance to finally bring lasting peace in Mindanao.

The Bangsamoro peace caravan started Wednesday night and continued until yesterday.

By around 10 a.m., the witness said, more than 100 NDF supporters, mostly wearing masks, arrived chanting and waving their red banner.

They also brought loudspeakers that drowned out all other sounds in Mendiola, including the voices of the praying Muslims.

Musa Sultan, a leader of Saksi Islamic Radio Forum based in Lanao, said they did not know that the other group was a supporter of the communist movement.

Sultan said when they arrived at Legarda, a group carrying red flags blocked and tried to prevent them from joining other groups who were praying.

He said they went to the area to pray and thank the international groups who supported the peace deal, and they did not know some had wanted to create trouble.

“We can’t understand why they want trouble… we’re tired of that, we want peace,” he said as he called on other groups to stop opposing the peace agreement.

The Muslims watched and waited for the NDF supporters to finish expressing their grievances.

The NDF supporters reportedly shouted “Mabuhay ang Kilusan,” to which the Muslims responded with “Allahu Akbar” (Glory to God).

“That sparked the clash,” the source said.

The NDF supporters reportedly fled toward Morayta street as the Muslims pursued them.

The arrival of the police ended the trouble.

At least 10 NDF supporters were reportedly found injured along the streets leading to Morayta. None of them filed a complaint with the police.

After the clash, the Bangsamoro supporters resumed their prayer rally.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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