Political party, vehicle of democratic struggle, says MILF chair

Written by MUHAMMAD MUSA, LUWARAN.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim told a gathering of some 700 officers of United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP), the group’s fledgling political party, that what they are doing right now is very much a collective of “ideological, political and organizational” efforts to “establish Islamic way of life” and good governance for the Moro people. This "democratic struggle", he acknowledged, is a long process.

UBJP officers from the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and South Cotabato and the cities of Tacurong and General Santos converged at the MILF Administrative Camp in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on December 9-10, marking the first assembly of UBJP Southern Mindanao Region.

UBJP Secretary General Sammy Al-Mansoor said the MILF saw it necessary to create a political party in preparation for the Bangsamoro government the group hopes to lead to usher peace and development in the conflict-affected region. He added UBJP now serves to translate MILF’s objectives and ideology into principles and programs of good governance.

Photo: MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim addresses UBJP party officers at the MILF camp in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. (Luwaran)

High-ranking party officers from UBJP chapters in Northern Mindanao, Western Mindanao, and Eastern Mindanao also graced the event to show their solidarity.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the final peace agreement between the government and the MILF, was signed in March 2014. Nine months later, in December, the MILF launched UBJP, which signaled what Al-Mansoor said at that time “the start of the MILF’s evolution from an armed revolutionary group into a political organization that would continue struggling for peace and development in the homeland in another arena – governance and politics.”

Both the government under former President Benigno Aquino III and the MILF pinned high hopes on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, the enabling law of the CAB, but the 16th Congress adjourned without getting it passed.

The idea of federalism has since figured in the discussions on autonomy with the administration of President Duterte bent on implementing a shift to a federal form of government.

At the MILF camp in Maguindanao, the UBJP also extended their appreciation to the support of Turkey’s AK Party, European Union, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), and the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG).

Since September 2015, KAS and IAG have been implementing the EU-funded project called Democratic Party Development (DEPAdev) aimed at promoting genuine political parties and movements within the future autonomous region “Bangsamoro” in conflict-affected Mindanao. -- With a report from Luwaran

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