Mindanao Peace Process Moves on to Implementation

Manila, Philippines, 11 Dzulqa’dah 1437/14 August 2016 (MINA) – The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have moved the peace process to the implementation stage of the agreements signed, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said Saturday.

Dureza and Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. joined MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in the two-day launching of the implementation stage in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Philstar reported..

“Today is a big milestone towards peace in Mindanao. We decided to launch the implementation stage of the Mindanao peace agreement between the Philippines and MILF,” Dureza announced.

He urged the government’s peace process partners to stay with the government.

“Stay with us until the end. We value your contributions,” Dureza said.

Dureza emphasized President Duterte’s first policy statement that publicly committed the government to the signed agreements.

“The Philippine government is committed to move forward in the implementing stage of the peace process,” Dureza said.

“We can sign a hundred peace agreements, but if we do not improve the lives of people on the ground, all this will be for naught,” he added.

Dureza said they have the complete implementing panel in Malaysia to show the government’s strong commitment to the peace process.

“We urge our global partners to stay with us. The road to peace will have bumps and bumps along the way, but please stay with us,” he said.

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For his part, ?Murad expressed elation that the government and the MILF are facing each other again and ready to move forward.

“Let us continue to join hands for the success of peace in Mindanao. We are ready to move forward,” he said.

Murad said they are again partnering with the Philippine government because of President? Duterte’s strong political will to resolve the Bangsamoro question.

He said Mohagher Iqbal would lead the implementation team of the MILF.

“They must agree to the provisions of the agreement (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro). The implementation phase should start with drawing up a road map to guide the process,” Murad said.

While the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) failed to pass in the 16th Congress, Murad said they are hoping it will pass in the 17th Congress.

“We hope that the Bangsamoro enabling law has a brighter future under the 17th Congress. The time for closure of cycle of injustice is now. Our ambition is to end the conflict-stricken days in the Bangsamoro homeland,” Murad said.


A special group

Murad said the MILF is amenable to including the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Abu Sayyaf in the ongoing peace process with the government.

However, this has yet to be discussed with President Duterte since the two groups are considered violent.

“The Abu Sayyaf are former members of the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front), the BIFF are also former MILF and they separated from the MNLF and the MILF at a time when the peace process was not moving. So they lost hope in the peace process. So that is why we are confident that once the peace process will prosper, then these groups will no longer have the justification for their own struggle and they will no longer be supported by the people once the peace process will be successful,” Murad said.

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He said they have created a special group to deal with the BIFF and they made some progress.

“Just a month ago we have signed a cooperation mechanism with the BIFF so that they could respect for a moment the peace process. The (Abu Sayyaf), we are also trying on our part but still we are in the process,” he said.

While it maybe true that the BIFF and Abu Sayyaf stemmed from the ranks of the MILF and MNLF, Dureza said they have evolved into brutal terrorist groups.

“Those terrorists now mutated from that dissatisfaction to what they are now, plain terrorists. They’re very brutal and right now we know that they are there only for the money and we have to classify them in that light,” Dureza said.

Dureza said they would be dealt with accordingly.


‘A global milestone’

Malaysian third party facilitator Tengku Dato Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed said the region is watching the developments of the agreement.

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“We hope and pray that peace will prevail. Malaysia will continue to be your peace partners. We believe in moderation and peace. Conflict brings destruction,” Tengku said.

“Conflict brings destruction to all of us. Peace is elusive but we will continue to work with the Philippine government and MILF. The peace process in the Philippines is a global milestone,” he said.

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Mujiv Hataman, who attended the meeting in Kuala Lumpur, said the ARMM government is committed to the Mindanao peace process and would continue its programs meant to promote peace and security in underdeveloped areas in the autonomous region.

“The only solution to the Mindanao Moro rebellion is a peaceful, negotiated solution. Nothing else can solve the problem,” he said.

The MNLF said the meeting with the Philippine government and MILF in Kuala Lumpur is a big step in attaining peace in Mindanao.

“We are glad that the bilateral efforts of the government, now under President Rodrigo Duterte, and our brothers in the MILF is again moving forward,” said Muslimin Sema, chairman of the largest faction in the MNLF.

The government-MILF peace overture was stymied by the recent synchronized local and national elections.

Unlike MNLF founder Nur Misuari, who heads a separate faction, Sema stressed their group is not opposed to the agreement with MILF. (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)