Quest for lasting peace (2)
As early as in the mid-70’s, armed conflict between the Philippine Government (“GRP”) and armed groups posturing to represent the Bangsamoro people, notably the Moro National Liberation Front began to escalate to alarming proportions, such that peace negotiations became imperative.
The MNLF, led by former UP Professor Nur Misuari, was then branded as a secessionist movement desirous of establishing its own “state” pursuant to the Bangsamoro people’s religion, culture and tradition and inherent right to self-determination.
In 1976, the Tripoli Agreement was concluded between representatives of the GRP and the MNLF in Libya.
The reported non-observance by the GRP of the mentioned agreement, specifically its various provisions assuring Muslim autonomy, generated massive disgust and discontent among the Bangsamoro people and led to the break-up of the MNLF.
Misuari’s erstwhile trusted lieutenants in the MNLF lost no time in forming the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (“MILF”).
Since the MILF was inceptually branded by the GRP as “bandits” and/or “rebels” mounting pocket rebellions and in the process sowing terror in the hills/mountains of Mindanao the GRP continued dealing with the MNLF.
That continued relationship culminated in a legal experiment on supposed “genuine autonomy” to the Bangsamoro people, with the enactment of RA 6737 establishing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in 2001, with Misuari as its first Governor.
While fundamentally averse to the ARMM as its concept fell short of Bangsamoro’s idea of “religious and political indepen-dence”, the MILF leadership had no choice but to initially contend with ARMM.
But as fate would have it, ARMM, from inception, began to gradually unfold as a FAILED experiment.
As its initial years saw Misuari and a handful of his ilks became rich and highly connected, the Bangsamoro constituency was abandoned. (TO BE CONTINUED)