Secret tryst between PNoy and Murad stirs dispute

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III’s “secret meeting’’ with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al Haj Murad in Japan last Thursday has drawn mixed reactions from various groups.

MILF Vice Chairman Ghadzali Jaafar said President Aquino  gave MILF insurgents new hope for an end to the age old war that has claimed thousands of lives.

The strongest reaction critical of the said meeting came from Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who said Mr. Aquino should have informed the MNLF and Bangsamoro people as to whether his administration has abandoned the GRP-MNLF peace agreement so that  people will not be misled about the actual situation.

Misuari was referring to the legacy left behind by the President’s late mother, former President Corazon Aquino, during whose term the 1987 Jeddah Peace Ac-cord was signed between the Phi-lippine Government and the MNLF.

House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman  was also in fighting mood.  He urged  the President to make public disclosure of the highlights of his secret meeting with Murad.

Sen. Chiz Escudero said the “secret tryst’’ between the President and Murad was unneces-sary because the President could have delegated the task of meeting the top Moro rebel leader to some-one he trusted.

Meanwhile the Department of Foreign Affairs disowned the statement of an unidentified diplomat who said that President Aquino’s meeting with Murad was an act of treason.

Mindanao leaders, however, disagreed as they welcomed Mr Aquino’s move to fast-track the peace process by talking directly to Murad.

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou T. Mendoza said that Mr. Aquino’s decision to meet Murad showed he was serious about  resolving age-old insurgency, and praised the government for being transparent about the meeting.

Recall that in 2008, the Arroyo administration tried to resolve the conflict with the MILF through the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) that provided for a Bangsamoro seeming state.

Christian leaders in Mindanao and majority of the lawmakers opposed it.

The MOA-AD was later junked by the Supreme Court, triggering  bloody attacks on Christian communities in Central Mindanao by MILF rebels.

Later the MILF dropped its bid for independence in exchange for autonomy of the Bangsamoro.President Aquino yesterday promised the nation that whatever agreement is approved in the talks have to be ratified by the people through a plebiscite.

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