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MILF to BIFF: Back peace

After Kato’s death, Murad calls for ‘one struggle’
By: - Reporter / @NikkoDizonINQ
/ 12:49 AM April 19, 2015
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Murad Ebrahim AFP FILE PHOTO

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Murad Ebrahim. AFP FILE PHOTO

One struggle.

This was the message of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in asking the breakaway group to support the peace process with the government after the death of its leader, Ameril Umra Kato, last week.

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It was also apparently a move by the MILF to end the fighting between the military and the BIFF, as MILF chief Murad Ebrahim said the group’s peace panel could work for a ceasefire should the BIFF consider rejoining the MILF.

The invitation was part of the letter of condolence sent by the MILF leadership to the BIFF after Kato died on April 14 from a heart attack.

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Murad signed the one-page letter, dated April 15, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer on Saturday.

Both the MILF and the government are striving to save the peace agreement they signed last year after nearly 20 years of negotiations.

The peace process, and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), came under attack from legislators and the public following the deaths of 44 police commandos and Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, on Jan. 25.

READ: Full report: The Mamasapano incident

Brotherhood in Islam

“At this juncture, as one brotherhood in Islam and the need for one struggle, the MILF calls upon the leaders of the [Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement]/BIFF to return to the fold of the MILF and support the ongoing peace process and the passage of the BBL as the final solution to the centuries-old Bangsamoro Question and conflict in Mindanao,” Murad said.

“Rest assured that [the] MILF and its peace panel will do everything possible so that all of you will be covered by the protocols of the [government]-MILF peace process, including the ceasefire,” Murad added.

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The BIFF is smaller than the MILF, but as an armed organization it has managed to wage its own war against the government since 2008.

A ceasefire is in effect only between the government forces and the MILF. The truce does not cover other armed groups like the BIFF in Mindanao.

Under Kato’s leadership, the BIFF rejected the MILF’s decision to talk peace with the government and continued to fight for a separate Muslim state in Mindanao.

Kato used to head the 105th Base Command of the MILF until he and two other commanders broke away from the MILF after the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a Moro homeland deal between the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the MILF in 2008.

Kato, his cousin Wahid Tundok and Aleem Sulayman Pangalian led their MILF units in bloody attacks in North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte in August 2008, soon after the Supreme Court decision.

Tundok and Pangalian eventually returned to the MILF, and have remained with the organization.

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TAGS: Ameril Umra Kato, Bangsamoro Basic Law, Bangsamoro Islamic Liberation Front, biff, Maguindanao province, MILF, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro rebels, Murad Ebrahim, peace process
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