MILF not a revolutionary movement anymore, Murad says
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is no longer a revolutionary movement after more than 40 years of fighting the Philippine government, its chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim declared on Friday.
This was after Murad and the other MILF combatants took their oath of office as members of the 80-man Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) that will administer for three years the newly-established Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
President Rodrigo Duterte, who administered the BTA members oath of office, appointed Murad as chief minister of the BTA.
"No more. We are now transforming from a revolutionary to bureaucracy, governance," Murad told reporters after the oathtaking ceremony in Malacanang.
"We would like to officially announce to you that now, after more than 40 years of our struggle, we have achieved our aspiration. And we assure you that we will do everything in order that everybody will benefit from this, from what we have achieved. That is our assurance," he added.
Some commanders of the MILF, including Abdurahman Macapaar, alias Commander Bravo, was chosen as member of the BTA.
Asked how the former MILF combatants, including Macaapar, would transition to become government leaders, Murad said, "Actually, as revolutionaries, all of us are both political and military leaders. It depends on the assignment. But we are trained politically, and we are trained militarily. So even though, most of the times most of these commanders were in the military, they are also trained on governance. And we are hoping that they will also be productive."
Murad, who succeeded Hashim Salamat, founder of the MILF, when he passed away in 2003 as chairman of the Muslim rebel group, said they consider themselves as Filipinos "because we are still under the Philippine government."
After the BTA formally assumes office on February 26, he said they will come up with their own anthem and the flag.
Meanwhile, Murad said the BTA would come up with a different Bangsamoro Development Plan, which was prepared by the Japan International Cooperation Agency in 2016.
"Now we are trying to converge the development plan. The MILF has its own development plan. The MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) also has its own. And the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) also has. And the international community has their own plans also. So we try to converge all these plans in order to be comprehensive," he said.
Murad said the MILF is thankful to Japan and its people for their assistance.
"They have been one of the main supporters to the peace process. In fact, both political and economic, they are involved in ensuring that the peace process will move forward," he said.
With the BTA in place, Murad said the decommissioning of the 30 percent of the 30,000 to 40,000 MILF combatants would immediately follow.
"We are working with the IDB, Independent Decommissioning Body. They are on the process of listing down and and verifying. So, hopefully, we can have it within the next month," he said.
The decommissioning of the MILF combatants and firearms will be completed once the first set of elected BARMM officials take over by mid-2022. Celerina Monte/DMS