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MILF open to forging ‘unity of purpose’ with MNLF–spokesman

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 14:39:00 07/18/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is open to forging a “unity of purpose” with the Moro National Liberation Front, and a possible shared leadership, with the goal of finally achieving peace in Mindanao, a spokesman for the MILF said Friday.

The two rebels groups have started a “solidarity conference” with the aim of “bringing peace and development” to Mindanao, Eid Kabalu, MILF civil military chief, said in a phone interview.

During back channel talks last Wednesday, peace negotiations between the MILF and the government reached a breakthrough on the contentious ancestral domain issue, paving the way for the resumption of formal peace talks, aimed at establishing a Bangsamoro juridical entity.

The juridical entity is envisioned to be an expansion of the
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which was established after the government forged a peace agreement with the MNLF, a move that caused the MILF to break away from the MNLF.

Asked where the Bangsamoro juridical entity would place the MNLF, Kabalu: “Pwede naman ma-reconcile [There can be reconciliation], so much so that the MNLF and the MILF are not enemies. So, [there] is a possibility for a possible accommodation for the MNLF and other groups for the sake of bringing peace and bringing development in the area.”

“There can no longer be a unification of the two organizations, but unity of purpose can be done, because it is more of an arrangement between the leaders of the organizations,” Kabalu said.

Asked if the MILF was open to shared leadership with the MNLF, Kabalu said: “Yes, yes, why not? The MILF is not selfish enough to reject whoever wants to become part of the juridical entity so long as it will redound to the interest of our people.”

Kabalu said the MILF agreed to the government’s proposal to hold a plebiscite in 712 villages to determine whether or not they would be included in the juridical entity, which would expand the ARMM.

“We do not object, because that is consultation with the people. We don’t object to processes like that,” Kabalu said, referring to the plebiscite.

The plebiscite will be held six months after the memorandum of agreement (MoA) on the ancestral domain issue is signed. The signing will be scheduled during the next meeting of the negotiating panels on
July 24.

“It appears that the remaining obstacle on the ancestral domain has been resolved, so [there is] no more hindrance for them to proceed with the talks,” Kabalu said.

The breakthrough came after the MILF agreed to drop the word “freedom” in reference to the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people, from the draft of the MoA.

Kabalu said the MILF agreed to have the word “freedom” dropped since pursuant to an agreement struck with the government when the peace talks started in 1997, the MILF would not seek independence, and the word “freedom” could mean that they were seeking independence.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

FriUTC2008-07-18T07:17:48+00:00UTC07bUTCFri, 18 Jul 2008 07:17:48 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

Posted in Uncategorized

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