Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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Zamboanga Crisis: A fiasco of Aquino’s peace process in Muslim Mindanao

Moro-Christian People’s Alliance

“The ongoing political crisis in Zamboanga City gives away Aquino’s failure to address the Bangsamoro Question amidst his claim of success of the GPH-MILF peace negotiation,” according to Antonio Liongson, spokesperson of the Moro-Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA).

“It is a serious price that Aquino has to pay in belittling the significance of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement of the GRP-MNLF in pursuing a just and lasting peace Southern Philippines,” Liongson added.

Clearly left out in the Aquino GPH-MILF peace talks and peace policy in Mindanao, Prof. Nur Misuari, founding Chairperson of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), declared independence of the entire Mindanao, including Palawan and Sabah, and announced the formation of the “Bangsamoro Republik” before an assembly of MNLF members in Talipao, Sulu last 12 August 2013.

Misuari invoked a 1960 UN General Assembly Resolution that granted independence to all colonized peoples in the world.  He declared that the “Bangsamoro Republik” is a sovereign nation under the colonial occupation of the Government of the Philippines.

Malacañang, through Secretary Edwin Lacierda, dismissed MNLF’s claim of being left out and said that the Framework Agreement of the GPH-MILF peace negotiation will benefit all the Bangsamoro. Deputy Spokeswoman Abigail Valte also pointed out that the 1996 GRP-MNLF Peace Agreement does not include any secession.

Liongson said that this is not the first time that the Aquino government’s belittling attitude toward important stakeholder organizations in addressing the roots of the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao resulted in a war situation, warrantless arrests, forced displacement of thousands of Bangsamoro/non-Moro civilians, and loss of lives.

In February – March 2013, a standoff and armed confrontation between the Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu & North Borneo, led by Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, and the Malaysian Armed Forces in Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia over the issue of reclaiming Sabah caught the Aquino administration off guard. The two-week standoff has caused the forced displacement of thousands of Moro and non-Moro families, who have lived and worked in Sabah for years.  The displaced Moros (majority of the Tausug tribe) returned to Mindanao with little assistance, if any, from the Aquino government.

The Sabah standoff was triggered when President Aquino deliberately ignored the two letters of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo about the Philippine Sabah claim to be considered in the GPH-MILF peace talks which is facilitated by the government of Malaysia.  Feeling snubbed, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III decided to revive and pursue the Sabah claim on his own initiative.

He sent his younger brother Agbimuddin Kiram, the crown prince, accompanied by some 200 members of the Royal State Forces of the Sultanate, to Lahad Datu, a coastal village in Sabah, Malaysia to start the process of reclaiming Sabah.  Historically, Sabah belongs to the Sultanate of Sulu.

“To address the roots of the Moro Question and attain a just and lasting peace in Mindanao, President Aquino  must conduct a comprehensive and genuine peace policy with  the active participation and involvement not only with the Moro Islamic Liberationm Front (MILF) but of other legitimate stakeholder organizations that include the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) of Prof. Nur Misuari and the Sultanate of Sulu & North Borneo led by Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.

“Even the MILF breakaway group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM) led by Ustadz Ameril Omra Kato, must be considered, as it is fighting for the same legitimate issues of the Bangsamoro. All these organizations have been fighting for the Bangsamoro people’s homeland and right to self-determination,”  Antonio Liongson concluded.

Antonio Liongson
National Spokesperson
Moro-Christian People’s Alliance
CP #0905-8248028

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