From the Philippine Star (Mar 26): MNLF group eyes SC TRO vs peace deal
The Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are all set to sign the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim leading a large delegation in Malacañang.
Meanwhile, several leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) are hoping the Supreme Court will act on their bid to halt the peace deal.
MILF vice chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar said Wednesday the government allotted 400 slots for their members to witness the signing ceremony which will be also attended by representatives of the international community and local stakeholders.
“We’re given a quota of 400 people. We know that the Palace grounds could only accommodate a limited number of people,” he said.
According more would want to personally witness the event but could no longer be included owing to the limited slots.
He said their delegation will be composed of senior members of the central and provincial committees and ground commanders.
It was not, however, clear whether the government has given safe conduct passes to the leaders and members that have pending cases, but want to witness the signing.
Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said on Tuesday that all is set for the CAB signing ceremony on Thursday.
“There is no turning back. Only moving decisively forward. The peace train is on track. Its design is complete. Most of its elements are in place,” she said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles said they are expecting at least 1,000 people to grace the CAB signing, including foreign dignitaries.
“The eyes of the world are looking at us,” Deles said earlier about the successful conclusion of the peace negotiations as she noted the many challenges and difficult work ahead especially in the implementation of the provisions of the agreements.
Jaafar said during the signing of CAB Thursday, the MILF’s main Camp Darapanan will hold activities with thousands of members and supporters in attendance.
Similar celebratory activities related to the CAB signing will also be held in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, the core areas of the proposed Bangsamoro region, he added.
Meanwhile, some MNLF leaders and members hope the Supreme court will act on their petition filed last year seeking to nullify the comprehensive agreement that will be forged between the government and the MILF.
Habib Mujahab Hashim, chair of the MNLF’s Islamic Command Council (ICC), said they have also forwarded their manifestation in support of the petition that was filed before the High Court since December last year which has yet to be acted upon.
“The petition has been there but no action. However, it has not been turned down also. It’s part of our last ditch effort and hopefully the Supreme Court will act in our favor,” Hashim said.
However, Hashim said if they could not get favorable action from the high court they will pursue the case before the United Nations (UN).
“This is just a legal option. Aside from this we have another avenue which is the UN,” Hashim added.
This achievement is one for a lifetime. Imagine this agreement was only signed after more than 16 long years of off-and-on battles in the negotiating table.
By any stretch of imagination, this hard, complex, and almost futile exercise cannot be repeated in a generation. In fact, many of the negotiators from both the MILF and the government have died already. They were not lucky enough to see and witness this history in the making in this country.
If the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) had started their negotiations from two opposing hard positions and continued it through thick and thin, the signing of the CAB is truly a defining moment that they can be proud of with heads high. For one, this signals the dawning of the real partnership between the two parties that they must nurture through to the end.
Thus, this partnership has to be real and genuine. Gone are the days when mistrust and reservation are the rule between negotiators whose motive is to outwit the opponent in order to win. Both sides especially their negotiators have to open up with each other and must continue to undertake problem-solving approaches.
Moreover, both sides have to help one another. Needless to say, the MILF has to be helped to stand on its feet so that it is fully capacitated to stave-off the challenges ahead. Only two capable partners can ensure the success of their peace endeavor.
Without saying, a weak partner will pave the way for anarchy to rule the day and chances that a more dangerous place is not farfetched in Mindanao. This fear is compounded after the exit of President Benigno Aquino in 2016. If the new president does not follow through with the achievements of the peace process and genuinely adopts a policy of empowering the MILF and henceforth the Bangsamoro Government, then the future is truly bleak. This is the reason why the 2016 presidential election is truly material to the future of the Bangsamoro. We can only hope that those who run for president will adopt a policy of fully supporting the Bangsamoro and not to undermine it in any manner or form.