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Is someone coveting the Nobel Peace Prize?

/ 03:10 AM January 30, 2015

Details of the massacre of 44 commandos of the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last Sunday are still hazy, but one thing is clear: The two units of the SAF were surrounded and attacked by the combined forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

The BIFF is tagged by the MILF as a “breakaway group” of the latter. If so, how come they are encamped beside each other and even helped each other in fighting the SAF commandos? The BIFF is not involved in the current peace process between the government and the MILF. I see a repeat of the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) experience here.

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The Philippine government under President Ferdinand Marcos concluded a peace agreement in Tripoli with the MNLF then led by Nur Misuari. Under the Tripoli Agreement, a semiautonomous region was carved out of Muslim Mindanao. Thus was born the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao first headed by Misuari himself.

The national government spent billions of pesos to support the ARMM and to help it bring progress and development to Muslim Mindanao. No such thing happened. Misuari spent more time relaxing in other Muslim countries than in the ARMM. The billions of pesos that the national government gave to ARMM disappeared into mansions and other luxuries of Muslim leaders. Even now, the luxurious mansions are anachronisms in communities marked by the hovels of the poor (for example, the Ampatuan mansions).

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Some MNLF commanders disagreed with Misuari and broke away from the organization. Thus was born the MILF, the first “breakaway group.” While MNLF leaders wallowed in luxury, the MILF guerrillas harassed government forces.

The national government under President Joseph Estrada waged all-out war against the MILF and captured its stronghold, Camp Abubakar, which was protected by bunkers built with concrete that was supposed to have been used to build the highway beside it.

Estrada, however, was not able to finish what he started because he was deposed by People Power II and replaced (illegally, according to the international media) by then Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. GMA subsequently started another round of peace negotiations, this time with the MILF.

President Aquino’s administration concluded those peace talks with a comprehensive peace agreement with the MILF. Now pending passage is the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, which will serve as the constitution of the new Bangsamoro substate to be carved out of several Muslim provinces in Mindanao. It will then be submitted for approval by the people in a plebiscite. What will happen to the ARMM and the Tripoli Agreement which is still in force? The current peace negotiators are silent about it.

As before, some commanders of the MILF did not agree with the peace negotiations and broke away from the main body. Thus was born the breakaway group BIFF led by Umbra Kato. This is the group that helped the MILF fighters massacre the 44 SAF commandos.

In the peace agreement, the MILF’s Bangsamoro government will disarm and disband armed guerrilla groups like the BIFF to end the reign of terror in Mindanao. If so, why are the MILF and BIFF fighters helping one another fight the national government, with whom the MILF has signed a peace accord?

They say there are relatives in both factions and they help one another against a common enemy, the national government. But what is the MILF doing to disband the breakaway group BIFF?

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Will the BIFF be another MILF (like the latter was with the original MNLF), with which the national government will again be forced to have another peace agreement and gobble up more areas in Mindanao?

And note that Misuari’s original MNLF is again making noise and trouble (like the 2013 siege of Zamboanga City by its fighters).

How will the peace agreement with the MILF treat the BIFF and the MNLF? What will happen to the Tripoli Agreement that was concluded under the sponsorship of the international Organization of Islamic Conference? The peace negotiators are silent on this, too.

When the Bangsamoro government is already functioning, what will it do if the BIFF continues to wage war on the national government? Will it fight its relatives in the “breakaway group”? Will it disarm and disband the BIFF and the MNLF? Will the new Bangsamoro government or the MILF bring the MILF-BIFF fighters who massacred the 44 SAF policemen to justice?

One last thing: Is someone in a hurry to have the Bangsamoro Basic Law passed by Congress before the Aquino administration bows out next year, so that he would be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize?

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TAGS: Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Camp Abubukar, Maguindanao, Mamasapano, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Nobel Peace Prize, Philippine National Police, PNP, SAF, Tripoli
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