By Alden M. Monzon, Reporter

Faction of MNLF is new BBL supporter

Posted on October 15, 2015

A FACTION of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) signed on Tuesday a joint declaration with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) calling for the passage of the draft law on the Bangsamoro Region, despite Congress’ limited time as the election campaign for the 2016 general elections nears.

The declaration calls for the passage of the original version which was drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Committee, the body formed by the Philippine government and the MILF.

MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Datu Muslimin Sema, leader of one MNLF faction, were signatories to the joint declaration at the MILF’s Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

“With the realities confronting the Bangsamoro people, it is therefore incumbent upon all of us, leaders of the Bangsamoro, to solidly unite just like we did in the past,” MILF vice-chairman Ghadzali Jaafar said in his speech during the event.

“With great joy, we have reached once again, a milestone in our struggle to agree on a common position and a common approach to the realization of the promises of peace,” Mr. Sema said in one part of his speech.

Sought for comment, Amina S. Rasul-Bernardo, president of the think tank Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID), said of the joint declaration: “[The] unity statement is a good move. But chair Sema does not represent [the] Misuari group. That’s the problem.”

There are at least three factions within the MNLF, including the group led by its founding chairman, Nur Misuari; the Central Committee led by Mr. Sema, and the Islamic Command Council led by Habib Mudjahab Hashim.

Also sought for comment, Emmanuel C. Fontanilla, spokesperson of the Misuari-led MNLF faction, distanced their group from the joint declaration.

“The MNLF there is [not the] Misuari group. We can’t agree with the [Bangsamoro Basic Law] because there is the 1996 agreement,” Mr. Fontanilla said in a text message, referring to the peace agreement at the time between Mr. Misuari and President Fidel V. Ramos.

“It has been repeatedly said that only [Mr.] Misuari represents the MNLF.... Only moron[s] will believe others who claim otherwise,” Mr. Fontanilla also said.

Ms. Rasul said the declaration could still prompt lawmakers to beat their December deadline.