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MUSLIMIN SEMA, reelected MNLF chair vows for peace collaboration in BARMM

COTABATO CITY – Reelected Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Central Committee (CC) chair Muslimin Sema vowed to continue working with his counterparts to achieve peace in the Bangsamoro areas of Mindanao.Sema was reelected and positioned anew as chair of the MNLF–CC, one of the two… Read More

ALSO READ: 1996 Peace Agreement key to Mindanao peace

1996 Peace Agreement key to Mindanao peace


BY ROGER M. BALANZA

 Even as the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are locked in continuing negotiations seeking peace in Mindanao, Cotabato City Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema said the 1996 Final Peace Agreement remains as the key to the Bangsamoro problem.


    Sema, chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), urged speedy completion of the review of the historic peace pact between the MNLFand the government, submission of the review and proposed amendments to President Benigno Aquino and approval by Congress of the amendments to Republic Act 6734.
    RA 6734 otherwise known as the Organic Act of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was the final offshoot of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement between the Philippine Government and the MNLF led by Professor Nur Misuari.
    But even as the 1996 final peace agreement has been signed and RA 6734 is in place, the Philippine government is seeking peace with another Moro group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which surfaced in the late 90s to continue the Bangsamoro struggle. The MILF said it does not acknowledge RA 6734.
    Alongside the GPH-MILF peace negotiations, a tripartite body  under a Tripartie Agreement between and among GPH, MNLFand the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) is conducting a review of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement and RA 6734, whose provisions, the MNLF contends, has not been fully implemented.
    The review is 99.9 percent completed, said Sema. He volunteers that another GPH-MNLF-OIC meeting is to be held in September in Davao City.
    Sema said the tripartite body has resolved 42 “contentious points” and was ready to submit its proposed amendments to RA 6734.    
    The government has continuing talks with the MILF the last of which was the 31st Exploratory Talks held in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.
    Sema said he and the MNLF support any undertaking seeking lasting peace in Mindanao, but said the 1996 peace agreement is “the binding agreement that should be respected and pursued.”
    Without peace in Mindanao, there can never be peace in the country, said Sema who was interviewed by phone by the Durian Post on September 10.
    We are one nation.There can never be peace without peace in Mindanao, he said.
    Until the MILF surfaced in late 90s, the cause of the Bangsamoro people had been carried on the shoulders of the MNLF.
    In 1973, the Mindanao problem escalated into an armed conflict involving the MNLF and the government. The situation led the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) to intervene which led to the signing of the Tripoli Agreement between the Philippine Government and the MNLF in Tripoli, Libya in 1976.
    In compliance with the Tripoli Agreement, President Ferdinand E. Marcos signed Presidential Proclamation No. 1628 in 1977 forming an Autonomous Region in Southern Philippines.
    This was rejected by the Bangsamoro people calling it as a unilateral implementation by the Manila govemment of the Tripoli Agreement.
    In 1979, Batas Pambansa No. 20 was enacted creating the Regional Autonomous Government in Westem and Central Mindanao region. This was also not accepted and the Bangsamoro people pursued their revolutionary ideals for autonomy.
    In 1987, under President Corazon C. Aquino, the Jeddah Accord was signed by the Philippine Govemment and the MNLF, under a commitment to continue the talks on the full implementation of a more meaningful regional autonomy.
    The Aquino govemment then sought the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which was enshhrined  in the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
    In 1989, Republic Act No. 6734, otherwise known as the Organic Act of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, was signed into law by then President Aquino.
    In 1996, the MNLF and the Philippine Government signed the final Peace Agreement which led to the election of MNLF chairman Nur Misuari as Regional Governor of ARMM.
    The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), another Moro armed group, meanwhile, surfaced to continue with the struggle with  armed clashes between the military and the MILF escalating to a full war by the year 2000.
    

Court clears Sema in Yu kidnapping

MNLF chair slams politicians behind smear drive

By ROGER M. BALANZA

                The Regional Trial Court in Cotabato has denied an amended motion  by prosecution to include Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema in the case involving the kidnapping of a wealthy Chinese business woman, virtually clearing the chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

                In a February 10, 2011 order, RTC Branch 3 Judge Bansawan Ibrahim, Al Haj, denied the motion to admit amended information  for ” insufficiency of evidence.”

                The order came days after Sema in a privilege speech at the Sanggunian Panlungsod on February 8, condemned as a “politically motivated” hatchet job his being linked to the January 8 abduction of  54-year-old Adin Yu, owner of the city’s oldest hardware store at the parking area of a casino inside a plush hotel in Cotabato City.

                Sema and his known loyal followers–former city administrator Ismael Daulog, Mayor Salaban Diocolano of Kabuntalan town in Maguindanao, Rolly Solano, and Sukarno Sema, an incumbent member of the City Council–were included in the list of more than 10 more suspects the police recommended to be charged in connection with Yu’s kidnapping in Criminal Case No. 2011-4096 for Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention.

                The MNLF in a resolution described the attempt to link Sema to the kidnaping as “purely baseless and a political assassination.”

                “Chairman Sema cannot in anyway be involved in any crime or acts of misdemeanor being the supreme leader of an honorable organization,” said the MNLF in Resolution No. 010.

                Businessmen and religious communities had scored Sema’s being dragged into the case

and appealed to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to look into why he is being implicated.

                Islamic communities here slammed city’s prosecutor Wilfred Buyco for elevating the case to RTC without first requiring Sema and his co-accused to undergo a preliminary investigation and to submit their counter-affidavits.

                “Our names were not included in the first information sheet that was submitted to the prosecutor. We were listed as among the suspects in a subsequent request by the police to have the first information sheet amended,” Sema lsaid earlier.

                Fears have been expressed over tension erupting between Sema and his political rivals, after the vice mayor said hostile camps were behind the smear campaign.

                In his speech at the local legislative body, Sema vowed  those behind the smear campaign against him will ” face the consequence of their doing.”

                ” I never was, I never am, and will never be a kidnapper nor mastermind of any kidnapping plan in Cotabato City or elsewhere. Throughout  my life as a rebel leader, as an ordinary citizen, as a fomer city mayor and now city vice mayor, i never commited or thought of committing crime against any person,” he said in the emotionally-charged speech. “Even during the hardest part my life as rebel leader when we eat once a day, I never resorted to kidnapping.”

                Addressing his detractors, Sema said “you will not succeed and face the consequence of your own doing. Time will come when they reap what they sow, ” although he advised supporters to be calm. If they can do this to a former mayor and chairman of the MNLF, what fate awaits ordinary citizens? he asked.

                In his speech, he urged the legislative body to conduct an investigation on rampant kidnappings in the city, saying the Philipine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) have no ” no consolidated and systematic effort to stop the kidnappings.”

                Sema suspected that his being linked to the kidnapping and the trial by publicity convinced him that the coming peace talk is a “ploy to trap leaders into mainstream politics by eliminating them through criminal cases and malicious accusations to wear out their revolutionary fervor.”

MILF not meddling in ARMM polls

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is keeping its hands off the coming elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The Philippines’ largest Islamic separatist rebel group has ordered its forces to stay out of the elections. The campaign period has started for next month’s polls in the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao in Southern Philippines.

More than one million Muslims are set to vote on August 11 a new set of officials for the ARMM’s six provinces. The MILF is more than keeping the elections free: the separatist group does not recognize the Philippine Constitution and in the past did not participate in any elections.

The MILF order for rebels to shun the elections came ahead of a press statement from MILF chairman Ebrahim Murad urging Malacanang to reset the ARMM elections.  Murad said  ARMM  has not responded to needs of the Bangsamoro people and and frowned at the coming elections a stumbling block to the ongoing peace talks between the MILF and the government.

“ARMM did not and cannot cater to the basic needs of the Bangsamoro people and instead has worsened their already depressed condition and added confusion to the populace,” Murad said.


The statement, jointly signed by former MNLF leader Muslimin Sema urged President Gloria Arroyo to postpone or scrap the polls.

The polls are a grave obstacle to the ongoing peace negotiations between Manila and the MILF, including the MNLF tripartite talks, said Murad and Sema in the statement. The ARMM was established after the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) then headed by Nur Misuari signed a peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1992 after a 30-year battle for independence for Muslim Mindanao.

An MILF spokesman however said the press statement was fake.

“We have not issued any statement urging the Philippine government to scrap or postpone the ARMM elections. The MILF has ordered all its members and supporters to refrain from participating in the ARMM polls and other Philippine elections,” Eid Kabalu told media in another statement.

Unresolved issues on ancestral domain have stalled peace talks between the government and the MILF, as both sides seek an end to more than three decades of Muslim rebellion in the Southern Philippines.