Whether or not the recent sighting of 100 or so suspected Maute militants in Buldon, Maguindanao is true or not, the fact remains that as long as frustrations of the people especially of the youths over the lack of genuine or fast efforts of government to address their long list of Moro legitimate grievances against the government, more and more violence in Mindanao will continue to besiege us all. Even if every armed Moro group would side with government in its so-called war on terror, the threats of war and/or terrorism will stay. This is because these enemies of the government feast on the legitimate grievances of the people – and they are exploiting these effectively.
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Frankly, even the MILF and MNLF are frustrated with the failures of government to comply with its commitments specified in the GRP-MNLF Final Agreement of 1996 and the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the GPH-MILF Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), respectively. Even the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which is the legal interpretation of the FAB and CAB, has no sponsor in Congress up to this time. Worse, it is not listed as one of the 14 priority legislations of Congress during the recent Legislative-Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting last August 29.
Frankly again, failure to address the legitimate grievances of the Moros of Mindanao, the conflict in Mindanao will stay with us. The use of brute force will only aggravate the problem. Of course, it will multiply the numbers of victims, but at the same time it will also increase the numbers of those resisting the government.
Given this as backdrop, the spill over of the Marawi crisis is the natural consequence of an illness not addressed properly. It is an unfortunate situation.
In this regard, the MILF is not and will not be remiss in its responsibility, allowed by Islam and pursuant to a clear parameter provided for by agreements of government and MILF. After the religious edict (fatwa) of the Darul Ifta of the Bangsamoro, chaired by Sheikh Abehuraira Abdulrahman Udasan, was officially issued, the MILF had started to act swiftly. In defence of its “areas or communities” the MILF had tried to prevent ISIS-affiliated to infiltrate, destroy, or sow intrigue or disorder (fitnah) in these areas. This resulted in bloody combats in many parts of central Maguindanao in recent weeks.
But frankly, the continued non-compliance of government to signed agreements will put the MILF in a very tight and odd situation. Consequently, the MILF will be torn between two unholy situations: partnership with a government that does not fulfil commitments and fighting terrorist groups whose pathways and ideological lines are based on twisted interpretations of Islam.
Of course, the right course of action for the MILF is: Hold the government accountable for its non-compliance to agreements and continue the assertion and at the same time continue to defend the MILF, as an organization, the people, and fight tooth and nail the spread of terrorism, anarchy, and intrigues.
For the BBL, the only hope is for President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to make good its campaign promise, said repeatedly, that he will make it as template for federalism in this country. Mr. President, we are holding on to your commitment!