Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sans final peace deal, ISIS surge in Mindanao feared

From the Daily Tribune (Aug 25): Sans final peace deal, ISIS surge in Mindanao feared

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has expressed fear of an ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) virus in Mindanao if negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the MILF fail to reach a peace agreement.

While the MILF belittled the threat posed by the Abu Sayyaf and the MILF breakaway faction Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM), citing their small forces, it, however, warned of the threat poses by the extremism being espoused by the ISIS which now controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

“The threat really comes from the extremism espoused by the ISIS. Ideas are contagious and infectious. Wild ideas are attractive to those who want adventures and pre-occupied with hatred and revenge,” the MILF, in a statement posted on its Web site, said.

“The MILF condemns barbarism and savagery whether done by other groups including the ISIS or even by its own members. Neither are we justifying the advent of the ISIS. That is not for the MILF to dip our fingers into it,” it added.

The MILF went on to cite the importance of the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which is designed to address the decades-long Mindanao conflict.

The MILF emphasized the need for the passage of the BBL which is based on the letter and spirit of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its four annexes plus the addendum on the Bangsamoro waters.

“We don’t doubt the President will exercise his powers of review diligently, fairly and fully conscious that the BBL should and must address a problem, the Moro Question, and put it to rest forever. This is our conviction,” the MILF stressed.

“In short, what we mean is that the BBL we envision is one that complies with the flexibility of the Constitution and, more importantly, one that will lead to the resolution of this question. Short of this, the road ahead is not easy to contemplate on,” it added.

“It is this high hope for the passage of a good BBL and the fear for not being able to realize it for whatever reason that the ISIS’ virus is much to be feared,” the MILF also stated.

It maintained that the MILF has been instrumental in hindering the birth of a strong radical group in Mindanao through the years. But the MILF leadership could not control everything if the negotiations fail.

“Surely, the current leadership of the MILF, which is matured, experienced, and reasonable — and has done and is doing everything feasible to succeed in this peace undertaking — will no longer be in control of everything.

Frankly, it is the power, moderating line, and influence of the MILF that hinders the birth of a truly strong radical group in Mindanao,” the MILF said.

“Without the MILF, it would be free-for-all in Mindanao. God forbid!” it warned.

The MILF earlier expressed disappointment over the “diluted” version of MalacaƱang of the BBL, which was returned to the peace panels last June 23 after more than two months review by the Office of the President.

The MILF and GRP peace panels met again early this month in Davao to come up with an agreed version of the draft law which was submitted to the President last Aug. 20.

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