Murad appeals to MNLF to support Framework Agreement

October 15, 2012 10:32 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Oct. 15 — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leadership on Monday appealed to the the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to support the Framework Agreement to attain lasting peace in Mindanao.

"Let me have this opportunity to call on and appeal to our MNLF brethren to support the Framework Agreement and take this historic journey with us to redeem our Bangsamoro homeland on the gains given to us by the agreement," said MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in his speech at the signing of the historic Framework Agreement held in Malacanang.

"This is not the time for discrimination. This is the time for unity, the time for all of us to think, act and speak as one Bangsamoro as we summon all our friends to face the daunting task of home rule," he said.

Murad, who stepped on the grounds of Malacanang for the first time, said that never in his wildest dreams since he was a child or when he joined the Bangsamoro struggle more than 40 years ago, "that one day I will see the interior of this building that once housed the Spanish and American governor-generals and now the President of the Philippines."

"Today I am here not as a tourist, nor as a politician who seek personal favors from the President of the Philippines, but as a humble chairman of the MILF mandated by our brothers and sisters on the ground, and by the Bangsamoro people, to witness a historic agreement with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines under the leadership of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, author of a just enduring peace in the Bangsamoro homeland," he said.

"It is in the context that I come in peace and to forge a partnership of peace on the basis of the Framework Agreement between the MILF and the Philippine government," he added.

Murad said that the almost five centuries of foreign invasion and domination have given birth to what it is now called the Bangsamoro identity.

He noted that the peace negotiations that took place first in 1976 in Tripoli, Libya under the auspices of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), and unto 1996 in Jakarta, Indonesia between the MNLF and the Philippine government were all geared towards everything — the historical and the current grievances of the Bangsamoro people.

But unfortunately, Murad said, these negotiations came short of doing further peace in Mindanao.

"Thus, the appropriate political formula to correct the historical and current injustices committed on the Bangsamoro people remained, which has invariably taken a heavy toll on the lives, properties and livelihoods of our people — Moro indigenous community and settlers in Mindanao and Sulu," he said.

Murad said the previous peace negotiations were "unable to alter, let alone normalize the adversarial relationship between the Bangsamoro people and the Philippine state, and it was this adversarial relationship that continued to fan the armed sovereignty base conflict in our homeland and thus obstruct the attainment of just and enduring peace as requisite in normalization."

"It was for this reason that the MILF, under the leadership of the late chairman Salamat Hashim, accepts the sacrifices and decided to engage in peaceful negotiation with the Philippine government in 1997," he noted.

After almost 16 years of hard negotiations, Murad said, the MILF has finally inked "the most important document in the chapter of our history — a landmark document that restores to our people their Bangsamoro identity and their home land, their right to govern themselves, and the power to forge their destiny and future with their very hands."

"Today, we are here to celebrate a victory for the Bangsamoro people and the Filipino people that is shared by the International community and the Muslim world… A victory earned not by war but by collective desire tempered by inner nobility of human nature to restore justice and peace to the troubled land," he said.

Murad said they dedicate the signing of the Framework Agreement to the Bangsamoro departed leaders — whether MILF or MNLF.

"They sacrificed their lives for the cause of Allah and for the Bangsamoro. To them and to all the peace-loving people in this country, this agreement shall stand as our greatest tribute," he noted.

"On behalf of the Bangsamoro people and the MILF, may I extend our heartfelt thanks to His Excellency President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, His Excellency Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak…. and all those who believe in the justice for our cause, and who were with us thru thick and thin in our long struggle to justice and peace. We convey our sincerest gratitude," he said.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, for his part, hailed the forging of the Framework Agreement between the Philippine government and the MILF, which is aimed at ending decades of violence in the southern Philippines.

"This is a chance to restore dignity to the people of the Southern Philippines, those deprived of their humanity by decades of violence," he said.

"This is not an end-point but a beginning. There is much to be done. It does not solve all the problems but it does set parameters in which lasting peace can be found," he said. (PNA)

RMA/LGI

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