MILF: From ARMM to ‘Bangsamoro State Government’ | Inquirer News
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MILF: From ARMM to ‘Bangsamoro State Government’

/ 04:16 PM April 30, 2012

COTABATO CITY, Philippines—It shall be called the Bangsamoro State Government, or BMSG, the political entity being envisioned to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Last week, the government and MILF peace panels signed a document embodying “10 decision points on principles” that would serve as “general directions of the substantive negotiations” geared at crafting a political settlement to end over four decades of Moro rebellion in Mindanao.

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Among others, the document spelled out the parties’ commitment to create “a new autonomous political entity in place of the ARMM,” premised on their admission that “the status quo is unacceptable.”

Ghazali Jaafar, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) vice chairman for political affairs, in a news conference on Sunday said the BMSG would cover the ARMM provinces of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur “and more areas where there are many Bangsamoro people.”

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But Jaafar stressed that the inclusion of these areas, including those already covered by the ARMM, would still be the “subject of discussions in future negotiations between the Philippine government and the MILF.”

“The MILF’s goal is to have a peaceful solution to the problem, and the Bangsamoro people and the leadership of the MILF believe that (this can be achieved) only through the establishment of a Bangsamoro government, which is still under the Republic of the Philippines.”

The MILF has allayed fears of discrimination against non-Muslims and rights violations if the new political set-up is established.

“This is not so, residents of Muslim Mindanao, since time immemorial, are considered Bangsamoro, which includes Christians and lumads,” Jaafar, in a separate radio interview, said.

“They (non-Muslims) will be provided with the same rights, privileges and protection by the new political set-up,” he added.

He explained the BMSG would be a democratic entity subservient to the Philippine Constitution and transient residents wanting to stay permanently should meet the requirement inscribed under a `basic law’ that would be crafted by the Bangsamoro parliament.

Jaafar said the MILF would want the new government to be “a state within a state where the national government’s role would be supervisory.”

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“There will be sharing of power and resources, that the Bangsamoro would have the priority to chart its destiny under the system of self-rule,” Jaafar said.

“This has been our forefathers’ long obsession for self-determination, truly autonomous and not just an administrative government as it is now,” he said.

“Rest assured,” he said, “that lasting peace would reign when the government peace panel along with our legislative branch of government gives its nod of approval to our long-sought aspiration.”

Jaafar also announced plans to hold a Bangsamoro Leaders Summit in the future.

“This will be venue for Bangsamoro leaders to express their views on how to solve the problem and, once and for all, to have a united stance,” he said.

The summit will be attended by Bangsamoro revolutionary leaders from the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front, including political leaders now connected with the Philippine government, according to Jaafar.

The MNLF waged a secessionist war in the early 1970s. Upon the urgings of Islamic states especially Libya, it signed a peace pact with the Philippine government that scaled down its demand to political autonomy for the predominantly Muslim-populated areas in Mindanao.

In 1978, a faction led by Salamat Hashim broke away from the MNLF and would later be named the MILF.

In 1996, government and the MNLF signed a peace agreement. The following year, the MILF opened peace negotiations with government, vowing to further improve the political concessions already granted the Bangsamoro people.

In December last year, leaders of both the MILF and the MNLF heeded the call of Islamic states and met in Jeddah under the auspices of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The MILF described the meeting as the first step for both to begin the process of “evolving a mechanism for collaboration and consultation.”—With a report from Charlie C. Señase, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Bangsamoro State Government, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro rebellion, peace negotiations, peace process, Peace Talks, Philippine Government, Philippines - Regions, rebellion
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