DAVAO CITY -- Although it has pronounced neutrality and non-involvement in the forthcoming general elections, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) still would like to see voters choosing bets who have a clear perspective on pursuing peace in Mindanao.

“Vote for those who favor the peace process,” urged Abdulmanaf Mantawil Jr., secretariat chair of the MILF peace panel.

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The rebel group has taken a keen interest on who would likely become president in the May 10 polls, obviously concerned about the fate of its negotiations for a political settlement to the Moro conflict.

“It’s a miracle,” Matawil said when asked to comment on the likelihood of a comprehensive compact being concluded within the remaining four months of the Arroyo administration.

Despite persistent efforts of both sides, prospects of a peace deal between the rebel group and government has dimmed owing to their widely divergent proposals for a political settlement.

In its draft agreement, government negotiators said they are offering enhanced powers, functions and governance role for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The MILF, on the other hand, is seeking the creation of a sub-state that would be an entirely new arrangement for political administration for the Muslim polity in Moro-dominated areas of Mindanao.

Mantawil said the MILF proposal embodies power-sharing between the central government and Moro sub-state, which in the aborted Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain was called Bangsamoro Juridical Entity.

He explained that “in order to implement the MILF draft, it will require constitutional amendments.”

The requisite changes in the state’s current legal framework are not likely to be achieved in the next four months.

Mantawil said the MILF’s “hands off policy” on the elections does not also mean disallowing its mass supporters to vote for particular candidates.

He urged all candidates, especially those gunning for the presidency, to come up with very clear platform on the Moro conflict and the peace process in order to be attractive to MILF supporters and sympathizers.

Another rebel leader, Muhammad Ameen, chief of the MILF general secretariat, earlier said the rebel group will not endorse any candidate but will just make available to its mass supporters the profile of every candidate and an analysis of their platforms of government.

So far, the rebel group identifies only Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino and former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada as the ones with a clear-headed view on how to go about the so-called Bangsamoro problem.

“With Estrada, we all know he wants to settle the matter through war,” Mohagher Iqbal said.

He 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 aspiration for self-governance.

But Iqbal, who chairs the MILF’s peace panel, was quick to add that they would still be “very cautious” with an Aquino presidency given “the people that surrounds him and their would-be influence in his leadership.”

He referred 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).

The views of another presidential bet, Senator Richard Gordon, ring a bell with the MILF but Iqbal doubts “his chances of capturing the post.”

Iqbal characterizes the stance of senator Manny Villar on the issue as “very blurred.” He also notes that the perspective of former defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro on the matter “has improved” compared to before.

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.

Maulana Alonto, a member of the MILF peace panel, has noted the slim regard accorded to the Moro right to self-determination in the current discourse of the presidential campaign.

“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,” Alonto said.