Mindanao problem needs political solution – MILF Vice Chair

By: UNYPAD ComTeam

COTABATO CITY/ December 13 – Reiterating their call for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BTC) by the Philippine Congress, Ghazali Jaafar, First Vice-Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the concurrent Chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), underscored the need for a political solution to resolve Mindanao conflict.

“Development is useless if Mindanao problem is not addressed politically,” Jaafar said during a forum dubbed “Way forward: beyond peace in Mindanao” sponsored by Japan Embassy and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in partnership with Ateneo de Manila University held at the Shangri-la Hotel, Mandaluyong City on December 4, 2017.

He expressed his conviction that the Mindanao problem is political in nature, and stressed that “the solution is also a political one.”

“And even the bridge and road that would build for the Bangsamoro people is made of gold it won’t make sense at all and it might be the source of conflict within the community and its leaders,” Jaafar added.

The forum aims to draw more effective approaches in addressing the long standing conflict in Mindanao that has already claimed thousands of lives and caused destruction of properties.

There were three topics discussed in the forum: “Youth, violent extremism and the peace process,” “Autonomy and the peace process” and “Regional development and the peace process.”

Mr. Takihiro Kano, Japan’s Deputy Chief of Mission has expressed their continuing support to the peace process and beyond.

He presented what has been done by the Japanese government from year 2002 up to the present in support to the realization of the peace and development in Mindanao.

Susumo Ito, JICA’s chief representative for the Philippines, vows for stronger and continues partnership with Philippine government towards inclusive and sustainable development in Mindanao.

USec. Diosita Andot, underscored the present administration’s vision on strong nation where there is peace, justice and responsible nation.

“This is only possible if we truly understand that a successful peace effort does not end with a simple shake hand and sign documents, rather it is on how soundly we have built its foundation through empowering communities such that they do not just lead, determine and manage their own affairs but are fully capacitated to influence the duty holder and culture bearers in sustaining their development initiatives,” Andot said

In response, all of the speakers believed and strongly recommend the immediate passage of the BBL that would address the social complexities and inequities in the Bangsamoro.

The speakers also expressed that they are alarmed and worried about emerging radical groups which continue to pose a big threat to the economy and security of the country.

Jose Lorena, a BTC member who spoke about “The long march to real and meaningful autonomy and the peace process” said that the new BBL draft is more inclusive compared to previous one with the involvement Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

He related that the Moro people originally demanded for independence, however for the sake of peace, “The bid for total independence is out of the pictures but meaningful autonomy should be granted,” Lorena opined.

Dr. Fermin D. Adriano, a senior consultant of the World Bank, challenged the participants, government officials and members of the international community around to help support the BTC to push the immediate passage of the BBL.

He said, “Addressing the Bangsamoro problem through federalism is a big insult to the MILF since their cause was legitimate and it has spent blood and lives of both the state forces, armed groups as well as civilians.”

Adriano suggested the resolution of Bangsamoro problem through what was agreed upon and “federalism will follow.”

The BBL is the legal translation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that was signed in 2014 by the government and the MILF.

If passed by the Philippine Congress and approved through a plebiscite, this measure will provide the establishment of autonomous Bangsamoro political entity with more fiscal and political powers.

The activity was attended by different key peace players in Mindanao such as CSOs, Government line agencies, BTC and international non-government organization and representatives from some embassies.

Coming from the civil society were delegates from the Sustainable Initiatives of Grassroots and Networks for BBL or SIGNBBL. Among them were, Duma Mascud, Hashim Manticayan, Nasser Pulindao, Yusoph Lumambas, Abdulsalam Antao, Norhamina Masulot and Norsie Mindog.

The network members also graced the invitations of the Muslim community leaders from Baseco, Manila where they gave updates to the status of BBL in the hand of the Congress.

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