Ebrahim warns failure to extend transition period may result to "back to square one" in MILF peace process
Bangsamoro government Chief Minister Ahod "Al Haj Murad" Ebrahim warned on Friday that the peace process between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippine government might be "back to square one" if the administration fails to extend the transition period in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
In the "Virtual Press Briefing," Ebrahim, leader of the rebel MILF, which signed a comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro during the Aquino administration, stressed that they were not pushing for the three-year extension of the transition period from 2022 to 2025 just to stay in power.
"I just want to emphasize. We are not after the power in the governance. What we want is the agreement we have signed will have a successful implementation. It's only a piece of paper if it won't succeed," he said.
"The only way to succeed is to lengthen the transition period," he said.
Ebrahim explained that the political and normalization tracks of the peace agreement between the MILF and the government have been "interlocked together."
"Once we can't implement, the reality is we will be back to zero. We will again look for the solution in the problem," he said.
The MILF chairman cautioned there were groups that want the peace deal to fail and they were just waiting for that to happen to "exploit" the situation.
Parts of the peace accord that have yet to be fully completed were the decommissioning of the 40,000 MILF combatants, the camp transformation, and transitional justice, among others.
While joining in the 2022 election could be an option for the MILF, Ebrahim said there were still its members who could not take part in the electoral process because the government has not yet granted amnesty on them as part of the peace agreement.
He also said that when they join in the polls, the result could be rigged.
"If you look at the situation in Mindanao, if the election is the solution, many elections took place, but it doesn't reflect the real sentiment of the people," he said.
Bangsamoro Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal, then the MILF chief peace negotiator, in the same briefing, expressed belief that if those who would sit in the Bangsamoro government by 2022 are not MILF, there is likelihood that the peace accord could not be fully implemented.
He said it is necessary that the MILF would be at the "driver seat. If those who will seat, especially those opposing (the MILF), could that (agreement) be implemented?"
Murad and other officials of the Bangsamoro have asked President Rodrigo Duterte's support for the extension of the transition period.
Duterte is supporting the move. But he has said that the decision is with Congress which should amend the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
Bangsamoro Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo, also in the same briefing, expressed hope that Congress will pass the amendatory law on BOL until June this year in order not to be lumped with the discussion on the passage of the proposed budget for 2022 starting July and before the lawmakers would become busy for the national and local elections next year.
Ebrahim said they might ask Duterte to certify as urgent the passage of the law amending the BOL, specifically the provision that would extend the transition period until 2025. Celerina Monte/DMS