ARMM chief hails signing of last annex; BIFF, MNLF voice misgivings
DAVAO CITY – Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao praised the peace panels of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for signing the Annex on Normalization, the last of four documents that make up the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
“We commend the panels for persevering and braving the needed sacrifices and heeding the clamor of the great majority of Filipino for a peaceful resolution to the decades-old conflict in Mindanao,” Hataman said in a statement. “We also congratulate all those who took part, the leaders and individuals, who have, directly or indirectly, become part of this success— a leap to our collective endeavor in attaining peace in this part of the country.”
Hataman said the ARMM government had also worked hard to support the Framework on the Bangsamoro and in preparing a successful transition of power.
“Since the signing of the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, the autonomous regional government has committed to offer its full support to the southern peace process. And as we promised, we are more than willing to sacrifice while we prepare the bureaucracy for a smooth transition of power towards the new political setup,” Hataman said.
“My administration gladly submits to the provisions agreed upon by both parties for we believe it is for the greater good,” added Hataman.
He noted that despite years of being “unsuccessful in bringing basic services to its people especially those living in remote areas,” the present administration was able to bring in significant changes in the troubled region.
“But in our two years in office, we have shown that we can change this, that we are determined to institute reforms aimed at addressing lingering development issues common to all component provinces of the region,” Hataman said.
Hataman said the present ARMM government is confident that the Aquino administration will be able to fully implement the agreement.
“We are optimistic that with the strong political will of His Excellency, President Benigno Aquino III, and consensus of the Filipino people, through transparency and proper consultation, the agreement will see implementation,” Hataman said.
On the other hand, Abu Misry Mama, spokesperson of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, said they were pessimistic about the outcome of the peace negotiations, saying the Moro Islamic Liberation Front had accepted compromises in the annexes.
The BIFF had broken away from the MILF over disgreements regarding the peace talks.
The talks went through many difficulties, most especially in the crafting of the annexes, and the BIFF doubts that it would be able to pass through Congress without more compromises, Mama said.
“The deal is already ok on the level of the peace panels but what about the Congress?” said Mama.
The BIFF said they do not believe that the agreement will be passed or implemented under the Aquino leadership.
However, despite the disagreements between the Central Committee of the MILF and the leadership of the BIFF on the conduct of the peace negotiations, Mama said the splinter group would not sabotage the peace process.
“We promise that the BIFF has never and will not sabotage the peace negotiations,” Mama said.
Lawyer Emmanuel Fontanilla, legal counsel of the Misuari faction of the Moro National Liberation Front, said they were happy for the MILF that it made headway in the negotiations.
But Fontanilla reminded the MILF that peace and development in Mindanao could be achieved only through independence.
“It is a political charade,” Fontanilla said of the peace talks.
Mama said many members of the MILF would shift and join the BIFF if the agreement is further watered down in Congress.
“We are positive that more MILF fighters will not surrender their arms and join us,” Mama said.