DAVAO CITY -- A faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which emerged in the wake of an ouster move against Moro leader Nur Misuari as MNLF chairman a few years back, has thrown its support to the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).Former Sulu governor Yusop Jikiri said in a meeting with Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza here last Monday (Oct. 29) that they have agreed to implement a massive information, education and communication campaign to push forward the BOL’s ratification in January.
Jikiri’s group was also known as the Council of 15 and was formed in late 2001 by the MNLF’s most senior leaders amid claims that Misuari had lost regard of the Moro people. It was previously chaired by Muslimen Sema, Misuari’s vice chair for political affairs, and was recognized by then president Gloria Arroyo as the real MNLF.
In the meeting with Dureza, Jikiri and his group said they were “committed to help the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte by supporting the BOL and campaigning in the plebiscite.”
Jikiri said the campaign would cover “all areas” that were proposed for inclusion in the future Bangsamoro entity.
He said they will partner with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to develop and implement a multi-stakeholder campaign on the issue.
Misuari’s faction was unclear in its support of the BOL. However, it has been reported by Duterte that the aging Moro leader had voiced several concerns over it, including the perception on diminished autonomy and powers. Misuari also insisted on the 1996 peace agreement he had signed with the government.
Duterte had repeatedly said he was talking to Misuari to convince the Moro leader to support the BOL, which he described as the last shot to forging peace in Mindanao.
The President even floated the idea of creating a separate autonomous region for Misuari’s group.
“I’d like to talk to Nur on what he really wanted so that I can give it by the end of the year,” Duterte said in Zamboanga Sibugay in July 2018. He said Misuari can have “autonomy.”
“If that is what he wants and pending the federal system implementation,” he added.
Firdausi Abbas, Jikiri’s foreign minister vice chair, had earlier suggested that Misuari’s faction should also be included, particularly in the composition of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the body that would steer the new region until the elections in 2022.
Abbas, in an interview by Manila Bulletin in August, said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) can have 80 percent of the representation to the BTA, the members of whom Duterte will be appointing. His group, he added, was willing to take just 10 percent and the remaining 10 percent should go to Misuari’s faction.
“We still consider them (Misuari’s faction) part of the MNLF,” he added.
Meanwhile, Dureza -- in a statement -- acknowledged the “strong commitment” of Jikiri’s group to help the national government push for a “greater level of public awareness” on the BOL.
“I am very pleased with the MNLF’s determined efforts to help the Duterte administration in generating a groundswell of support for BBL and ensure its ratification,” Dureza told Jikiri during the meeting.
“The MNLF, under the leadership of Chair Jikiri, has over the years been a reliable partner of the national government in sustaining the gains of peace in Mindanao,” he added.
Dureza noted that Monday’s meeting was an affirmation of the Oct. 7 meeting of the Jikiri-led MNLF in Sulu, during which, a resolution was passed declaring the organization’s “unequivocal support” for the BOL. (PNA)
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