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MILF, MNLF pursue joint peace and security initiatives
Governance Politics

MILF, MNLF jointly pursue peace and security initiatives

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JOHN FELIX UNSON and ANTONIO MANAYTAY

North Cotabato Vice Gov. Emmylou Mendoza (right) and Regional Labor Minister Romeo Sema (left) discussed the prospects of the infant Bangsamoro region during a meeting this week in Cotabato City. (jfu)

COTABATO CITY

Stakeholders may see better days ahead for the Bangsamoro region with the convergence now of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on development objectives for the local communities.

The MNLF commemorated on Thursday the 25th anniversary of its final peace pact with the national government, brokered by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The OIC is a bloc of more than 50 Muslim states, including wealthy petroleum exporting countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

North Cotabato Vice Gov. Emmylou Taliño Mendoza lauded Saturday the MNLF-MILF cooperation in furthering the peace and development programs of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in 63 barangays in her province.

BARMM, which replaced the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in March 2019, was a political entity established after the government and MILF signed the peace accord in 2014, ending the over two decades of armed conflict.

The peace process was facilitated by Malaysia, capped off with the crafting by both sides of two compacts, the 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) and the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB).

“We are witnessing how the now allies MNLF and MILF are cooperating in improving the lives of the residents of the 63 barangays in our province that are now part of BARMM,”  Mendoza said.

Mendoza was referring to the 63 barangays in different North Cotabato towns whose residents voted in favor of the inclusion of their villages into BARMM’s territory during a plebiscite in 2019 ratifying the region’s charter, the Republic Act 11054.

BARMM Labor Minister Romeo Sema, MNLF’s vice chairman for political affairs, said Saturday they silently commemorated on Thursday the 25th anniversary of their peace agreement with the national government.

“We are praying for the compliance by the government with certain provisions of this agreement that have not been implemented fully yet,” Sema, also a member of the BARMM interim parliament, said, without elaborating.

Sema said the MNLF is helping the BARMM leadership forge ahead with its development programs for Moro, and non-Moro communities in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and in the cities of Marawi, Lamitan and Cotabato.

The chief minister of BARMM, Ahod Ebrahim, is chairman of the central committee of the MILF.

Ebrahim and some BARMM officials were followers of the late Islamic theologian Salamat Hashim, who helped Nur Misuari establish the MNLF in the early 1970s. Hashim’s group bolted out from the MNLF in the 1980s over ideological difference and founded the MILF.

“The most tangible outcome of the September 2, 1996 peace agreement between the government and the MNLF is the cessation of hostilities between our group and state security organizations, including the police,” Sema said.

Mendoza, vice governor of North Cotabato, actively supports Malacañang’s separate peace overtures with the MNLF and the MILF.

She said poverty and underdevelopment besetting Moro communities are easier addressed via joint efforts by both fronts.

“This so visible cooperation is an indication that there is strong camaraderie between these two groups now,” Mendoza said.

Sema said they want the BARMM government to succeed in its effort to alleviate the Moro sectors in its core territory, which development took a backseat due to armed conflicts that rocked the region for over 40 years.   

“There is nothing wrong with us in the MNLF converging with the MILF for peace to spread faster through all four corners of BARMM whose residents have seen the ugliest faces of armed conflicts,” Sema said. (John Felix Unson and Antonio Manaytay)

   

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