MILF mulls political party option

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09:24 PM October 8th, 2012

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October 8th, 2012 09:24 PM

MORO REBEL STRENGTH The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which split from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), is bent on continuing its armed cause despite peace talks between the MILF and the government. Some of its members are encamped in Datu Saudi town in Maguindanao. JEOFFREY MAITEM / INQUIRER MINDANAO

OZAMIZ CITY—The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) could convert itself into a political party or create a new one so it could join future electoral exercises and govern the Bangsamoro territory.

In a statement posted on its website, the MILF revealed its fate following an agreement on a peace framework with the government to end decadeslong Moro insurgency in Mindanao.

After the signing of the peace agreement, it would “either transform itself into a political party or organize a political party and engage in election,” the MILF said. “If it succeeds, then (the MILF) will form and run the government of the new entity,” it said.

Details of the MILF political party will still be discussed among members of its central committee, said Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF political affairs chief. What was definite, he said, was that it would be formed and might be able to field candidates in the 2016 regional polls.

In the draft framework agreement, which is slated to be signed on Oct. 15, the government and the MILF agreed to “entrench an electoral system” that “encourages formation of genuinely principled political parties.”

But while the rebel group signified its intention to field candidates in future elections in the expanded autonomous region, it said its leaders “do not want to talk employment in government even after signing the peace deal.”

“The issue here, therefore, is not what one or groups get from the deal. It is not about who succeeds to get this deal; it is not about authorship; it is not about turf. The real issue is what our people get in this deal; one that is beneficial to all, not for a selected few,” the MILF said.

“This is the real reason why the MILF is only asking for the driver’s seat up to the interim period,” it added.

Earlier, MILF chair Murad Ebrahim said that whatever the group’s collective decision would be regarding its mode of political participation in a future Moro self-governance entity, it wanted to ensure that democratic processes are institutionalized during the period of transition.

Asked about how the rebels will specifically organize themselves to take part in a new democratic setup, Murad said, “We will decide when we reach the bridge.”

He also said members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), the MILF’s armed wing, “will disarm themselves voluntarily and return to normal civilian lives.”

“They are also very much longing to be reunited with their wives and families,” he said.

Speaking to reporters in Kuala Lumpur, an audio recording of which was provided the Inquirer, the government’s chief negotiator, Marvic Leonen, said President Aquino would be creating a 15-member transition commission (Transcom) to draft a “basic law,” which will serve as charter of the Bangsamoro setup.

The document will be submitted to Congress for legislation, Leonen said.

Once legislated, the basic law will be subjected to a plebiscite throughout the areas comprising the Bangsamoro. When ratified, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority will set into motion and replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which shall by then be deemed abolished.

This is also the period when the ministerial form of government becomes effective in the Bangsamoro.

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