MANILA, APRIL 25, 2011 (MANILA TIMES)BY JAIME PILAPIL CORRESPONDENT - FORMER Gov. Nur Misuari of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) urged President Benigno Aquino 3rd to stop negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in connection with Manila’s bid to establish a new federal government for the Muslim population in southern Mindanao.

The MILF has no more personality because most of its leaders have defected to his group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Misuari recently told reporters and editors of The Manila Times during an exclusive roundtable.

In fact, he said, the MILF does not exist anymore and what is left is a ragtag group that the group calls Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters led by Umbra Kato and Commander Bravo, the very persons who led attacks on villages of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur provinces in August 2008 over an aborted signing of a peace agreement with the Arroyo administration.

“The MILF is already disintegrated. A great portion of their military has rejoined us. Thousands and thousands of them defected to us.

Practically all of them are now with us. I don’t know how many remained with the group of Kato and Bravo,” said the former ARMM governor, who taught political science at the University of Philippines for eight years.

The MILF broke away from the MNLF in 1980 and was formally organized in March 1984 under the leadership of Hashim Salamat, who died in 2003.

They disagreed on goals of establishing an independent Mindanao, with the MNLF refusing to take on a more aggressive approach and the MILF carrying on with a more religious orientation.

Although active in armed struggle, the MILF, however, has been attempting to forge lasting peace in southern Philippines.

On August 5, 2008, Manila, under the administration of then President Gloria Arroyo, and the MILF, through the chairmen of their peace panels, were scheduled to sign in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) under the Tripoli Agreement of 2001.

The signing did not materialize after the Philippine Supreme Court ruled against it, saying that it was unconstitutional.

Kato and Bravo then led the attacks on civilian villages in Central Mindanao.

Misuari accused the Malaysian government of supporting the MILF’s protracted war to keep the Muslim population busy fighting government forces instead of claiming the vast Sabah territory, which supposedly belongs to the Philippines.

He said that reporters who interviewed him recently confided to him that they saw powerful weapons in the hands of the followers of Kato and Bravo.

“They told me they saw with their two eyes high-powered weapons in Kato and Bravo’s camps. But despite this, many of their commanders defected to the MNLF, like Hadji Murad, Sammy Gambad and their respective brigades. A younger brother of Commander Gordon rejoined us,” Misuari added.

“If the government is pragmatic, realistic, it should desist from being used by the Malaysian government to sabotage peace in Mindanao,” he said.

According to him, he suspects that Malaysia is prodding the MILF to wage war continuously because of the problem of Sabah. “They want to cling to that land (Sabah). War is the only way to keep us busy fighting each other.”

He said he called the attention of Kuala Lumpur authorities and told them, “Don’t ever suspect us of marching forces (across Sabah).”

“They said, ‘Why is Nur Misuari increasing his forces? They want to attack Sabah.’ No. We are Muslims, it is forbidden by God to attack other Muslims.”

Challenge to Malaysia Misuari challenged the Malaysian government to bring to the International Court of Justice their insistence that they own of Sabah.

He said that Sabah’s annual income is pegged at around $108 billion mostly from its natural oil and mines and minerals.

“You are not giving us part of $108 billion of your yearly earnings from Sabah natural resources. Well, get a portion of that money and look for the best lawyers in the world. Prove before the International Court of Justice your claim to Sabah.”

Misuari said that the government is being blinded by an illusion that Manila can defeat the Muslims of Mindanao through war..

He said over 35 years of rebellion have passed and the armed conflict is still going on, killing thousands from both sides, including hundreds of civilians.

“Why persist on creating war in Mindanao? We were never defeated. Over half a million people were killed. The government should stop this war. Don’t wage war just so you can have reasons to promote generals and inject more fund in your army,” Misuari added.

The MILF’s claim to establishing an Islamic homeland in Mindanao is anchored on a peace agreement forged by MNLF with Manila in 1996.

In the agreement, the MNLF and the government have agreed on 33 issues, leaving only three major issues unresolved—autonomy; sharing of revenues between central government and regional government in strategic minerals and transition mechanism.

The same issues, ironically, are still the bone of contention in the government’s peace talks, not with the MNLF, but with the MILF.


Noy lacks political will to end corruption — Maguindanao solon By Gerry Baldo 04/25/2011 Daily Tribune

While President Aquino expressed confidence that his administration will win its battle against corruption, a ranking member of the House minority yesterday indicated that the lack of political will in Aquino puts into serious doubts his capability to end graft and corruption.

Maguindanao Rep. Simeon Datumanong said Aquino’s campaign to eradicate corruption entails political will to carry it out applied with an assurance of justice.

“The people will work with the government to fight corruption and any evil of society as long as government rules with justice, fairness and respect for established rights,” Datumanong said.

Datumanong was reacting to President Aquino’s Easter

message that he would be able to eradicate corruption in the country.

Citizens Battle Against Corruption party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna said he shares the president’s view.

“I fully agree (with President Aquino). A government that takes care of its citizens and a citizenry loving their country is the formula to nation building. Pagmamahal sa bayan bago sa sariling kapakanan,” Tugna said.

Quezon City Rep. Winston “Winnie” Castelo, meanwhile, appealed to the political opposition to be more constructive in their criticism on the Aquino government.

“We welcome the idea that the opposition step-up their attacks on the President. However, we caution them to be more constructive than obstructive,” said Castelo.

Castelo said some critics of the government could have been misled by the impression that they are being purged out by the Aquino administration after administrative and criminal complaints were filed against them.

“I believe that the act of criticizing Noynoy and his administration is part in the free market of ideas that will be helpful in decision making since the administration has no monopoly of ideas. In fact, it will always be viewed as healthy in a democracy,” said Castelo.

“As soon as we realize that Noynoy is serious in his commitment to streamline the bureaucracy in order that more government funds translate in greater goods and services for the people, we shall find every form of official misdeeds or wrongdoings corrosive to the very foundation that we built,” Castelo added.

Malacañang, however, indicated the country would overcome various challenges and make it through the darkness and “calvary of corruption” with the government and the Filipino people working together towards progress and development.

Presidential deputy spokesman Abigail Valte delivered for Aquino his Easter message depicting the Chief Executive’s optimism on the country’s brighter future.

“I am one with the Filipino nation in celebrating the Lord’s resurrection from the dead as He saved mankind from sins,” according to the Easter message which was released Saturday.

The President further expressed in his message that the people should not waver in their faith in God and must continue following His lessons.

“This is the first Easter celebrated by the new administration,” the message read.

“No matter how dark the episode we had been through, the advancement of honest and good governance, along with strong faith and cooperation, would be our foundation to overcome the calvary that we have to deal with as we came in (government),” it added.

Aquino also said that the people must intensify charitable works to manifest God’s love and compassion.

“Each and every one of us can contribute to the end of corruption to lift our people from poverty and difficulties. It is only through this that the people would feel the real light of change,” the President said.

The Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd. (Perc) recently reported that the perception of corruption in the country worsened instead of improved during the term of Aquino.

The Philippines mantained its ranking as the third most corrupt nation in the region in the Perc ranking but its corruption score worsened from 8.25 to 8.9 on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the worst.

The latest Perc results had Cambodia as the most corrupt (with a score of 9.27), followed closely by Indonesia (9.25). Both also had worse scores than they had in 2009.

The survey covered middle- and senior-level expatriate business executives working in Asia, the United States and Australia. According to Perc, respondents are asked to rate only the country where they are working and their country of origin. Thus, the results supposedly reflect their actual experience and observations.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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