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QUEST FOR AUTONOMY

MILF leader hopeful of lasting peace

/ 05:16 AM December 11, 2018

AL-BARKA, Basilan — Brave men cry.

The “fiercest and most dreaded” commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was driven to tears recalling his past battles and hoped for a peaceful future through a new Bangsamoro autonomous region.

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In an assembly at Barangay Cambug here last week, Hadji Dan Asnawi, commander of the 114th Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, faced 2,000 fighters, both men and women, and told them: “For more than 40 years, thousands of our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, children sacrificed their lives here. [In] this land, blood had taken more blood, so that we can stand united like this.”

Those who heard him were also teary-eyed.

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Martyrs

“I never expected that we’ve reached this far. It was just part of my dream then. Now, look at our colors. Two flags walking, marching side by side,” Asnawi said, pointing to the marching color guards carrying the Philippine and MILF flags.

Hud Limaya, one of the MILF’s vice commanders, shed tears, too, as Asnawi paid tribute to all fallen martyrs.

“Their blood nurtured us to seek peace and walk as one, with common goal, we are here to honor our fallen martyrs and to work as one for the ‘Yes’ plebiscite,” Asnawi said.

The plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law creating the new autonomous region is scheduled in January and February.

A female combatant translated Limaya’s response about tears, saying, “Brave men, who battled for long years, do cry.”

Ustadz Muhmin Mujahid, executive director of Darul Iftah, said the area where the gathering, called “Convergence of Peace,” was held was a battle zone where Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters died.

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Changes

“My father (Mujahid Munap), one of the leaders of former MNLF commander, Gerry Salapuddin, fought and died here,” Mujahid said.

Salapuddin, now chief executive officer of the Southern Philippines Development Authority, attended the assembly in solidarity with the MILF.

“It’s only right to conduct and bring this assembly here to inspire the people who fought hard for economic and political autonomy,” he said.

He said the administration of regional governor, Mujiv Hataman, brought “great changes in Basilan and to its people, regardless of politics, status and revolutionary ideologies.”

He said Al Barka used to be the most dangerous place in Basilan province.

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TAGS: Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, Hadji Dan Asnawi, Hud Limaya, MILF, Ustadz Muhmin Mujahid
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