Inside out

Random musings in and outside the news

‘Stop blaming the MILF,’ gov’t urged

Posted by Abi Kwok on August 20, 2008

By Abigail Kwok
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:59:00 08/20/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The government and the people should stop blaming the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in its struggle for independence, because showing bias against the MILF could only worsen the situation, a key official in the peace process said on Wednesday.

In a forum on the stalled peace process between the MILF and the government, lawyer Mohammad Musib Buat, a member of the MILF peace negotiating panel, said the “bias” included the Supreme Court’s failure to conduct follow-up investigations after it issued the temporary restraining order (TRO) against the peace agreement last August 5.

“The bias against the memorandum of agreement and the MILF is a revival of the century-old sentiment of anti-Moro. It is also anti-poor. If this country cannot give them justice, you cannot blame [the MILF] if they long for their own land and even their own country,” Buat said.

He also urged the Supreme Court to act on the TRO because failure to do so would only place the issue of peace in Mindanao back to “square one.”

“If the MOA will not be signed then we will go back to square one — hostilities might again resume and there will be a fourth generation warfare,” Buat said.

He also warned of “catastrophe” if the MOA would not signed as soon as possible.

Buat also stressed that the MOA was constitutional and also followed international laws, adding that the document cited the 1987 Philippine Constitution as well as the United Nations Indigenous People’s Rights.

But he said the proposal to amend the Constitution would only come in after signing the final peace agreement, stressing that the MOA was not the final phase but only the start of negotiations.

“We are pushing for constitutional reform after the peace agreement has been signed,” he said.

In the same forum, Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo said that peace would not be attained until the Moro rebels were satisfied.

“Hangga’t hindi natutugunan satisfactorily ang aspirations ng mga Moro ay hindi magkakaroon ng kapayapaan [Until the aspirations of the Moros are not being answered satisfactorily, there can be no peace].” he said.

Ocampo added that the need for an orderly and transparent peace process was essential for the benefit of the government because, “Mababawasan ang problema ng gobyerno [The problems of the government would be reduced].”

Ocampo also criticized President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s statement ordering the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to “defend every inch of Philippine territory against MILF forces,” saying she only complicated the matter.

“Don’t provoke force with force,” he said. “We should practice restraint.”

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