Misuari defied by own followersBy Aquiles Zonio
AMPATUAN, Maguindanao, Philippines—Nur Misuari’s own followers in Maguindanao are defying their leader’s stand on the “Framework Agreement’ between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The National Security Command Outer 12 under the Misuari wing of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has declared full support for the agreement, which their leader described as “illegal and a recipe for war.”
Abdulmanan Manalasal, MNLF Nascom-12 brigade commander based in this town, said in an interview their only wish was for the government to not forget the 1996 peace agreement.
Manalasal, 46, reminded the government that there are still provisions of the 1996 peace pact that remain unimplemented to this day. These include wealth-sharing and the creation of a regional security force.
Manalasal said that like many MNLF men supportive of the government’s agreement with the MILF, including those in the faction headed by Muslimin Sema, he and his men hoped for lasting peace in Mindanao.
“My dream is to see just long-lasting peace for Mindanao so we can go back to our land forcibly taken from us by the Ilaga para-military group during the time of Marcos,” he said. “I just hope that the Philippine government will be sincere this time in implementing the contents of the peace deal it has signed with the MILF.”
Abu Missry Mama, spokesperson of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement, said their leader Ameril Umra Kato had a wait-and-see attitude toward the Framework Agreement.
“We are not opposing the peace deal but we will never be a part of it. We will continue our struggle for Bangsamoro self-rule,” Mama said. “Let’s see if this deal can really address the Bangsamoro problem.”
For Mindanao’s ordinary non-Moros, they are still in a state of confusion over the agreement because they have not read its full contents.
Nonetheless, Bong Luterio, assistant principal at a private school in Cagayan de Oro City, said he hopes the agreement succeeds.
“For now, I am just hopeful that this time it will work and that the people concerned are really sincere in their desire to attain peace,” he said.
Happy Raagas, another Cagayan de Oro resident, said she thought the agreement was “a good development and a concrete example of how we, as a nation, can move forward recognizing the importance of diversity and respect for our differences, yet remain united as a nation.”
Butch Bautista, a resident of Cagayan de Oro for the past 34 years, said the fact that both sides agreed to forge a deal showed that the agreement had to be supported by the people.
South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy said that while he supported the agreement, “it should have been better if we were given a copy so we can study its provisions.”
In Cotabato City, which is included in the proposed Bangsamoro homeland, non-Moro residents said they too were in the dark the implications of the agreement on their lives.
Catalino Huerta, 50, said there was talk that Moros would take over lands owned by non-Moros.
“Is there a truth to this? I want to know,” he said.
Dennis Pincas, a pedicab driver, said he was apprehensive especially in light of Misuari’s warning it would spell bigger war.
ARMM Acting Gov. Mujiv Hataman said these and other concerns were precisely the things an information drive the ARMM plans to undertake will address. With reports from Cai Panlilio and Charlie Señase, Inquirer Mindanao