Dec 01 2017

MILF TRANSITION: “FROM A REVOLUTIONARY MINDSET INTO TRANSFORMATIVE LEADERS AND MANAGERS”

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) invited PeaceBuilders Community Inc. (PBCI) to witness the gathering of hundreds of thousands of people during the Bangsamoro Assembly held at the Old Provincial Capitol in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao last 27 November 2017.

From armed revolutionary to transformative social movement. Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chair of the MILF Central Committee, welcomed the delegates and guests of the Bangsamoro in this assembly and thanked everyone who travelled from as far as the island provinces and the remote areas of mainland Mindanao. Except for a few hundred government officials, leaders of various sectors, and international diplomats who were allowed into a gymnasium, most of the people were under the heat of Maguindanao sun while listening to the MILF chairman.

Murad expressed his heart’s burden regarding the challenge confronting all peace-loving people in this land. “A perverted ideology devoid of a national agenda that concerns itself only with the destruction of its perceived enemies,” he said, “without regard to the rules of war and the welfare of the people, has been sowing fear and leaving a trail of destruction and death across the Middle East.” He pointed out how this global terrorist activity reached Mindanao. “Here at home,” he continued, “it has reached our shores and had shown its ugly head in Marawi that has left what was once a thriving Muslim City into ruins and its people in diaspora.”

He then asked the audience to pause for a moment of silence “to honor and respect the victims of this tragedy.

Murad also shared the vision of the revolutionary front he’s leading. “The MILF,” he said, “must transition into a social movement, with service delivery at its core.” He explained that this transition would move from “fortification of camps with arms” towards venturing “into the development of our communities with new sets of learned skills.” He also emphasized a new preparation of MILF leadership “from a revolutionary mindset into transformative leaders and managers.”

In light of such vision and process of transition, Murad described the present task of his people “to lay the foundation for the new era in the Bangsamoro through the implementation of our Peace Agreements with the Philippine Government.” He called on them “to summon their strength and courage to stand together as one people aspiring for one goal, that of peace and justice for all.” He further emphasized that the Bangsamoro “must forge a new partnership with government as one people… to confront the new challenges… such as poverty, poor education, lack of development and insecurity.”

Murad, then, specifically addressed the need and the urgency to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law. He said:


“We push for the enactment of the Basic Law because we firmly believe, it is the right thing to do. It sprung from a negotiated political settlement that is bound to be delivered. We feel the obligation to assert for the enactment of the Basic Law, not because it will win us votes, but because it presents us the rare opportunity to be part of the noble endeavor of peace making. We urge the enactment of the Basic Law, not because the Constitution allocated that power to Congress but because we are afforded by history to be co-authors of peace and prosperity in the Bangsamoro and the country as a whole.”


The current MILF leadership is showing sincerity, both in their actions and words, in their intention to move from an armed-revolutionary group towards becoming a transformative civil society organization. This, however, goes hand-in-hand with the needed action of the citizens and government of the Republic of the Philippines to pass an enabling law to implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro; such enabling law is the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

First federalism, then autonomy. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte was the guest of honor in this Assembly. He started his speech by referring to what he’s trying to solve as “one of the hardest” in his administration—that is, the centerpiece of his election, “the federal setup of government.” He asserted that “what is at stake here is the preservation of the Filipino Republic and to correct a historical injustice, was and still is.”

Duterte then focused on the historical injustices and narrated the history of imperialism and how religion also played in those centuries of colonial oppression. Those tragic and unjust experiences of the Filipino people were the backdrop of the on-going “oppression and violence and unnecessary killing, sometimes for no reason at all,” according to Duterte. He further said, “It has bogged this nation for so long a time.”

“Now, if we do not solve this problem, the fundamental issue of historical injustice,” he warns, “hindi ito matatapos. Hindi talaga ito matatapos.” (This will not end. Definitely, this will not end.)

The President referred to the “many drafts,” apparently referring to the Bangsamoro Basic Law, although he did not mention, not even once, the term Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL anywhere in his speech. According to him, those “drafts” or “position papers” must be inclusive: “Ang akin, it must be inclusive. Lahat. Walang maiwan dito sa peace talks na ito. The MILF, the MNLF, lahat na, Lumad, kailangan kasali.” (For me, it must be inclusive. Everyone. Nobody will be left behind in this peace talks. The MILF, the MNLF, everyone else, Lumad, necessarily are included.) He promised to work hard on this and that he will ask Congress for a special session just to hear every stakeholders’ voice on this.

But there’s a strong condition: “There must be one nation for all and one republic for all. A Republic of the Philippines for all of us, Moro and Christians alike.” He reiterated that this condition is non-negotiable: “Hindi ko maibibigay ‘yan. (I cannot give that up.) The Republic of the Philippines must be one and the preservation of all Filipinos, Christian, Muslims, and all, must be there to unite us.

Then we will be happy… in the fullness of God’s time, I am sure, it is just a simple equation of correcting an injustice, redistributing whatever is it, just compensation and all, but these are all legislations. It can come later.”

From this speech, it appears that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will first implement his kind of federalism; then, he would proceed towards the genuine autonomy of the Bangsamoro, as defined by the Bangsamoro Basic Law. It is also possible—based on the administration-organized rallies calling for revolutionary government and the recent public portrayal of the President speaking publicly in military uniform (in a non-combat context)—that the President might implement this plan without the prescribed constitutional process; that is, if indeed he will succeed in establishing his revolutionary government.

 


Prayer for Peace

(Led by Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI, Archbishop of Cotabato)

Almighty and Most Compassionate God,
You are all Love. You are our Peace.
You are the giver of peace.
We praise and bless you.

Bless, most merciful God,
this massive Bangsamoro gathering
that seeks a just and lasting peace
in Southern Philippines.

We remember their long, centuries-old struggle
for self-determination. We are one with them
in their 17-year striving for a negotiated peace.
Now, O Lord, we are finally on the threshold of that peace.

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission
has drafted a proposed inclusive Bangsamoro Basic Law.
We pray, O Lord, that our legislators
will quickly approve this proposed BBL
as a priority measure above all other measures.

It effectively addresses the historic injustices
suffered for centuries by the Bangsamoro.
It  will prevent restless, idealistic but disillusioned young people
from taking the path of violent and destructive extremism and terrorism.
It is the path to a just and lasting peace with the Bangsamoro.

Bless our President, dear Lord, and his co-workers in government.
Bless the political leaders as well as
the revolutionary leaders of the Bangsamoro.
Bless our people of different religions and cultures,
so that we may develop Mindanao in peace and justice.
Bless us all, most Compassionate God, that we may live together
in harmony and in faithful obedience to your Will.

You are our Almighty God forever and ever.

Amen.

 


 

Religious leaders for peace. Four members of PeaceBuilders Community Inc. (PBCI) were among the party who represented the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) at this Bangsamoro Assembly. Twinkle “Tala” Alngag Bautista (PAR Partnership Designer and Inclusive Development Mentor), Sihaya “Jobee” Ansibod (PAR Coordinator for Central Mindanao), Ustadz Abdulkadir Abubakar (Senior Consultant on Islamic Values), and Arafat “Toto” Balono (Transport Safety and Specialist) joined Dr. Aldrin Penamora (Executive Director, PCEC Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission) and Pastor Nasali Silava (Member, JPARCom) during the said event. All six of them formed the PCEC representatives to the newly-organized Joint Working Group of Religious Leaders for Peace (JWGRLP).

The JWGRLP is composed of representatives from the Da’wah Committee for Non-Muslim Affairs of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the leaders of Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), which was joined later by representatives from the Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of Cotabato City, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), and UniHarmony Partners Manila.

This inter-faith initiative between Christians and Muslims have committed themselves “to work together to address the centuries-old biases and prejudices from both sides, as well as current issues of violent extremism so as to restore harmonious relationship between and among Muslims and Christians in Mindanao and in the Philippines in general.” All the members of JWGRLP were officially invited at the Bangsamoro Assembly as “MILF Guests.”

Parallel to the political processes between the GPH and the MILF, the JWGRLP would support the peace implementation by conducting inter-faith dialogues and cooperative activities to significantly minimize, if not to eliminate completely, the mutual prejudices between Christians and Muslims.

Together with Cardinal Quevedo, our hearts and minds resonate with those who prayed with him to let the Bangsamoro Basic Law  pass through Congress before establishing a federal government, for —

It effectively addresses the historic injustices
suffered for centuries by the Bangsamoro.
It will prevent restless, idealistic but disillusioned young people
from taking the path of violent and destructive extremism and terrorism.
It is the path to a just and lasting peace with the Bangsamoro.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://peacebuilderscommunity.org/2017/12/milf-transition-from-a-revolutionary-mindset-into-transformative-leaders-and-managers/

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