OZAMIZ CITY — Presidential bets are generally negligent of the Moro concerns with regards to their respective platforms of government, said leaders of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
In an article posted on its official website, Maulana Alonto, a member of the MILF negotiating panel, notes that “No presidential candidate was able to provide a satisfactory or straight answer (to the ‘Moro Question’) beyond the usual rhetoric of bringing about economic development, poverty alleviation, education. Moro right of self-determination was never addressed,”
The Moro Question is “central to the stability of… the Philippine state” and “should be a major consideration that seems to have been-inadvertently perhaps–overlooked” in the presidential debates, said Alonto.
Although it sticks to a “hands off policy” with respect to the elections, “arguably, whoever becomes the next tenant of Malacañang will be crucial to the on-going peace process between the MILF and the Philippine government,” admits Maulana Alonto, a member of the rebel group’s peace negotiating panel.
Another rebel leader, Muhammad Ameen, chief of the MILF secretariat, explained that the group’s “hands-off policy” on Philippine elections does not mean disallowing its mass supporters to vote “especially for those candidates who have pro-people (agenda) and those who have genuine interest in the peaceful, just, and comprehensive resolution of the Moro Question in Mindanao.”
He also urged all presidential candidates to provide a comprehensive platform on the Moro conflict and the peace process.
MILF identifies only Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino and former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada as the ones with a clear view on how to deal with the Bangsamoro problem.
“With Estrada, we all know he wants to settle the matter through war,” Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF’s peace panel told Sun.Star in a phone interview.
Iqbal noted that in announcing his presidential bid last year, Aquino has openly declared the primacy of peace negotiations as a pillar of how his administration would deal with the Moro’s aspiration for self-governance.
But Iqbal also said that they would still be “very cautious” knowing “the people surrounding him (Aquino) might influence his leadership.”
He was referring to North Cotabato Vice Governor Manny Piñol, vice presidential bet Mar Roxas, and senatorial bets Franklin Drilon and Teodoro Locsin, who were the staunch opponents of the aborted Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD).
All the other presidential bets “have platforms or statements ranging from non-committal to vague, if not outright lack of platform at all,” said Ameen.
“To Moros, especially those involved in the liberation struggle whether on the negotiating table or the battlefield, the priority will always be the just resolution of the Moro Question. Other than this, we do not give a hoot who becomes president of the Philippine state,” stressed Alonto.