MILF briefing for FOCAP


This is an incomplete transcript of the press conference which MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim held before the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of the Philippines (FOCAP).

click here for the opening statement of MILF chairman Murad.

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim
MILF chairman

Q and A

Split in the MILF?

AS far as the MILF is concerned there has been no split or whatever. The MILF has a very solid organization and the central committee governs the MILF and all the activities of the MILF. There is no apprehension of any split or disunity within the ranks of the MILF.

Central leadership lost control of 105th and 106th?

We assure you and the international community that we are in control, the leadership of the MILF is in control of the political and military wings of the MILF. If there are internal problems that is just normal as far as the situation os concerned. And we are addressing this problem.
The so-called problem between 106th base command and 105th base command is not really the real problem. But there are elements of both base command which have long-standing feuds and this has not been settled for a long time and this has caused the outbreak of armed conflict between these members of 105th and 106th. The immediate action of the organization is to suspend all the commanders involved in this infighting. After the suspension, the central committee formed a task force that will investigate the cause of the problem, the nature of the problem and the task force will recommend to the central committee what will be the appropriate action to solve the problem and to address also the disciplinary action that should be imposed to erring commanders. We still consider this as a normal internal problem in the organization.

MOA-AD and talks?

The last document we signed with the past administration is the declaration of continuity of the peace negotiations. If the Philippines government, the new administration desire to continue with the peace talks, it has to go through the established protocols and arrangement in the peace process in order to continue. As I have said, the only way is to move forward and to move forward we have to go through the agreed protocols. We cannot directly talk to the Philippine government. The Philippine government has to course whatever they want regarding the peace process through the facilitator. The facilitator will inform us of whatever the government wants to do about the peace process and then we will respond accordingly. That is the only way how to move on with the peace process. We cannot say we will start again from scratch. We review everything. You will remember that the agreements reached as I have said, 87 or so agreements already, these are products of hard negotiation. The media is well-informed of the process. You were witness that this was a very hard negotiation, there have been so many impasses and it is intermittently sometimes the resumption of hostilities. If we say we go back to zero, then what is the use of the more than 10 years of negotiating with the Philippine government? If that will be the policy that any new administration will again go back to zero then there will be no end to negotiation. Every new administration will start again. We are willing to continue with the peace talks as committed in the last declaration we signed. We will continue from where we stopped.


Replace Malaysia as facilitator?

We see that there has been no problem as far as the facilitator is concerned. The facilitator has done their part. They have according to their mandate. And as far as we are concerned there can be no start of any negotiation. At present the facilitator is still Malaysia. If there is a start of negotiation it has to be started by the facilitator. So changing facilitation is not an agenda, it cannot be an agenda prior to the start. We have no intention of changing the facilitation because the facilitator, we cannot justify any move to change facilitator.

Visit of Malaysian defense minister?

There has been no word from the Malaysian facilitator that they are losing interest in the facilitation. The coming of the defense minister is a manifestation. It’s generally a visitation to them, internal, a visit to their contingent in the international monitoring team and they will come as a courtesy call to the leadership of the MILF tomorrow. There has been no agenda forwarded to us for what will be taken during his visit. But our perception is that the coming of the defense minister himself is a manifestation of the continued interest and support in the peace process.

Expand territory?

On the MOA-Ad, if you recall that after the aborted signing there was the resumption of hostilities and after that there was back-channeling between GRP and MILF through the facilitator and we were able to resume the talks. And the last document we have signed pertaining to the MOA-AD is a joint statement. A joint statement which was signed on the 29th day of July 2009 in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Generally the joint statement stipulate that the parties will work out reframing the consensus point from where the MOA-AD was facing the consensus point, the earlier consensus points which was the basis of the MOA-AD. The general agreement was to reprint the consensus points in order to continue with the comprehensive compact. The MOA-AD will no longer be signed officially. It will no longer also be renegotiated. But we will work on the reframing of the consensus points and then go directly to the comprehensive compact. That was the agreement between the parties in the July 2009 resumption of the peace process. That is the stand of the MILF. We have to preserve whatever agreement we have with the Philippine government. We are willing to talk about the consensus point, we can reframe it, we can go directly to the comprehensive peace pact.

Enhanced autonomy?

The offer for enhanced autonomy was actually contained in the draft position of the GRP panel in July they submitted. The agreement was both parties will draft their position and when the Philippine government drafted their position we found out that there’s nothing new about their position, there has been no movement forward. In January 27 2010, we exchange position, during this exchange of position, we found out there was nothing new the government could offer. It’s the same thing they offered us in 2000 during the Estrada administration. And then in 2003 also they repeated the same offer to the MILF by the last administration, the Arroyo administration. And for the 3rd time they offered this in the last position paper they submitted. They call it their way of reframing the consensus points which practically threw out all the consensus point because nothing has been accommodated in that draft from the consensus points we have agreed.

PNoy wants resumption of talks after Ramadan?

We saw positive points something positive as far as the GRP MILF peace process is concerned. During the inauguration of President Noynoy Aquino he already mentioned about resuming the peace talks with the MILF. And then he also appointed his secretary to the OPAPP which is taking charge of the peace process. And then in his firt SONA he was also specific about resuming or continuing the peace talks with the MILF . And then next to that is the appointment of the chairman of the panel to negotiate with the MILF and 2 other members. These are all positive moves as far as the peace process is concerned. But then one thing we noticed in his SONA is his term of the problem in Mindanao as situation in Mindanao. This means that the root cause of problem, the struggle of the Moro people which is basically sovereignty-based issue is lumped into the social problem. Social problem in Mindanao. He termed it situation sa Mindanao. That makes us feel that the president whether intendedly or unintendedly misread the problem. Because the problem is not a mere addressing of a social problem. Because it is a struggle for freedom and self-determination of the Bangsamoro people. It seems they would also equate the solution to a dialogue between the Christians the lumads and the Muslims. Which to our perception, this is far away, going far away from the real solution. There is no Muslim-Christian conflict. Nor is there Lumad Muslim conflict or Lumad Christian conflict. This is not a problem because the Lumads the Christians and the Muslims before have been staying together harmoniously. The question is the Bangsamoro question, the struggle of the Bangsamoro. It is between the Bangsamoro people and the Philippine government. The need to dialogue between the Christians and the Lumads is of course a positive social move to enhance harmony but it is not a solution to the problem because the solution to the problem will always go to a political solution that will give freedom to the Bangsamoro people to exercise their rights to self-determination over their ancestral area, ancestral domain. It is swinging out of the real issue. That’s why we feel concerned that with this understanding of the present administration of the problem, there is a risk that we will be going through the same process as before, all presidents are not really intending to solve the problem but just to manage it to a controllable level, the situation in Mindanao. They just want to manage it in order that within their term the situation will be much better. That is what we see at the initial moment. And there has been no formal move yet as far as the MILF concerned, the new government has not initiated yet any formal move towards the peace process.

Peace talks made a counter-insurgency tool?

I read also the speech of the president before he was sworn into office with the security. He explicitly mentioned in that speech that the situation in Mindanao, the approach will be on four key elements…good governance…delivery of basic services…economic reconstruction and development…security reform…It’s very obvious, very clear, it’s a counter-insurgency program. All governments facing insurgency is adopting the same approach. The defense secretary statement always insinuate on crushing the struggle the rebellion, so it’s basically a counter-insurgency program. So that’s why what we see is a mere effort to manage the situation. We still cannot see from this new administration a manifestation that they will address and solve the problem of the question of the Bangsamoro.

How MILF want talks to continue?

Very clearly we have already defined the solution of the problem, that is the comprehensive compact. The procedure is also very clear. If the Philippine government, the new administration is interested to resume the peace talks then the process would be they would form their peace panel, they would inform the present facilitator of the talks, forward it officially to the facilitator, the facilitator will in turn inform the new administration have already formed their panel and they are willing really to resume the talks. We can immediately reactivate our panel. And then the facilitator can call an initial meeting of the panel. From there we can determine how we can move forward. The 2 panels can sit down, discuss how we are going to move forward with the peace process. That is what we are seeing now, we have to move forward. We cannot afford to go back, we have to move forward, and that is the only way.

BIAF?

The struggle has been dragged on for more than 40 years already. As far as the MILF is concerned, we officially declared our organization in 1982. Officially. We were part of the MNLF before in the early 70s, we formed the MILF in 1982. From there we started building our own military forces. We continuously train. We organize what we train. As of now we have officially trained more than 120 thousand fighters. 120 thousands trained fighters of the MILF. We have organized it into more of a guerrilla structure from a platoon level up to base level, meaning base command level. This is the structure of the BIAF. As far as sustaining our capability is concerned, we have sustained the war for over 40 years. And our people are determined to carry on the struggle. From generation after generation. There is no question of sustaining the war because our people have sustained it for decades. If we speak of revolutionary war, that is the capability to sustain a protracted war and we have been doing this. We are implementing, we accepted is as a concept that this is a protracted war, it is a war of the people. We don’t see any question about it. As far as the forces in Darapanan are concerned, this is not actually a real military camp, this is basically a civilian area but we maintain security forces for the members of the central committee and other officers holding their office here in Darapanan. This is not a real military camp and this has been acknowledged by the Philippine government.

Can resist full offensive by government?

We have faced them many times already. Estrada’s time he declared an all out war against the MILF and they were saying that even now Estrada is boasting that he has finished already the MILF. He even celebrated by slaughtering pigs in our former camp in Camp Abubakar. He hoisted the flag in Abubakar. He was thinking that once Abubakar will be captured he finished off the MILF. That is a very wrong concept because we are waging the guerrilla warfare, we are not defending a portion of territory. We are holding a certain area only temporarily only to hold meetings, assemblies, but it doesn’t mean we will be waging a conventional war where we will be defending a certain area. But we will continue to wage guerrilla warfare to inflict damage to the enemy and that’s what we did. We withdrew from camp Abubakar but we fought all over Mindanao area. The capture of camp Abubakar is not a manifestation that the MILF is already done. That is the misconception. We are preparing for any eventuality and that is always a concept in a revolutionary war. If we are in this we should also be prepared in war because if you want peace you must be ready for war. That is our belief and that is what we stand for.

How big is a base command?

We cannot really compare it to the gov’t AFP structure because the AFP structure is more on conventional army. Ours is a guerilla army but roughly a base command would number from 3,000 to 6,000 fighters depending on the area they cover. As of now we have 27 base commands all over Mindanao. But these base commands have a ranging strength from 3,000 to 6,000

You mentioned that you have 120,000 trained fighters. Would you give us estimate how many are armed?

Around 60 to 70%.

They’re saying that the security forces are having hard time going after suspects in Ampatuan massacre because some MILF commanders are coddling these. Cooperating in peace and security protection and operations?

We have a very strong policy against this. Just a week ago in order to be more clarified about it, the central committee issued a resolution clearly defining our policy on the Ampatuan family and their followers involved in the Ampatuan massacre. Stipulates that all members of Ampatuan family and their followers involved in the infamous Ampatuan massacre shall not be accepted in the holds of the MILF and that is very clear. Secondly, any intention to them to give firearms, money or whatsoever, material consideration in order to seek refuge in our area will not be accepted. Any commander of the MILF found to be violating this policy will be strictly…will be dealt with very strictly, accordingly. That is the resolution, we just have a week ago. Now the real situation is, in the area of the Ampatuan, where they were, this is actually a stronghold, one of the stronghold of the MILF because mostly all the mountainous area are occupied by MILF forces. That is why if they are hiding in such area it is not really the MILF coddling these people. But per our information, these people try to split into very small group and they just hide around the area and that is why they can still elude the pursuing military. And another thing also is these people are resident of the area, they know very well the area while the military pursuing them are not well versed in the area that is why they are hard up pursuing this. Added to that we also have an agreement with the GRP about interdiction of criminal elements and in fact we’ve formed a joint body, the ad hoc joint action group, and we consider these people as criminal and the agreement between us and the Phil gov’t is applicable. So there is no truth about their claim but I think it’s mere failure of the gov’t to apprehend these people and then they are trying to justify their failure.

How do you sustain your operations, where do you get funding, firearms?

You know, our organization is a revolutionary organization. Basically a revolutionary org is a people’s org. if a revolutionary org is supported by the people themselves that they represent, there is no problem sustaining the organization because firstly we are…our org is based on the people themselves. So people join the org, mainly to support the org. we are not giving salaries, we are not giving anything to the people. They provide it themselves. You will see that if people as big as the Bangsamoro people which could be accounted to almost 10 million although the Phil gov’t is trying to say it’s only 3 to 4 million…they have not increased the level of the population since 1967, that was still the population count of the Muslim, they say about 3 to 4 million. You can imagine, if we say 3 to 4 million Bangsamoro people contributing just one peso every month, then we can say we have roughly 4 million every month from our people. And besides that as I have said we are not giving salaries, people feed themselves. Because it is…people understand that what they are fighting is for themselves, so they feed themselves. You will notice that even during meetings, people come and bring their own food to attend meeting, not necessarily the organization providing them food. When we had an assembly here for three days we gathered more than 2 million people. If you feed 2 million people that will be millions of pesos. But everybody fed themselves. They just bring in food from their house and then bring it here and eat here so there’s no problem at all. That is the concept we adopted. Added to that we have a program we call it self reliance program. We encourage people to be self reliant always, every group will implement their own self reliance program and the organization also will have its own self reliance program so that’s how we sustain.

No similarity to taxes paid by ordinary people

Normally regular members, they pay what we call monthly fee. The monthly fee is charged to every member, regular member, but not from the people. All those member only. Members of political committee and members of the military, they pay…it depends. Members pay five, officers pay ten pesos. Higher officers pay 20 pesos. This is collected monthly and used for administering the organization. This serves as administrative funds of org. that’s how we operate.

As far as regular members we can say roughly about 1 million or more than 1 million.

Firearms, you see since we start we as part of our revolutionary effort we tried to strengthen our military org. the firearms some of them are captured from the enemy, some are being purchased from the enemy themselves, because they sell their firearms and ammunition, some also are being purchased from gunrunners, and we also have managed to have a technology to gain a technology to make our own weapons. We are making weapons especially what is this…popular RPG. We are making it ourselves and then so that is the weapons strength of the MILF is a combination of all these, a gradual strengthening of the organization until now. We can fairly say that we can mobilize not less than 60,000 firearms.

You get funding from foreign orgs?

So far there have been no foreign org supporting the org. although these foreign orgs are implementing programs but it’s not for the MILF, it’s for the people Bangsamoro people. We do not have any supporter from foreign orgs or govts.

Also some concern from AFP foreign terrorists going around Mindanao. What is MILF doing?

This is covered in the agreement…these foreign elements, [are] included. And we can say that as far as in our areas, where we control, there are no foreign elements in our area. No terrorist group. In fact about 3 years ago in 2005, we joined we have a joint operation with the AFP to drive out in central Mindanao groups identified with the Abu Sayyaf and we have jointly conducted operations to drive them out the area. And from that on there are no Abu Sayyaf in this area, and even what they called JI, Jemaah Islamiyah. But now to be very practical about it you know the situation in Mindanao, the problem here is people, elements whatever they are, fighting the government, since the people of Mindanao have been meaning the grievances there is always the grievances of the people in Mindanao towards the gov’t and the reality is since the grievances is not addressed, so people when they see that there are elements fighting the gov’t, they can always gain support from certain sector of the people. They can always. That is why even how much the military have been pronouncing already many times that they will crush the Abu Sayyaf, they will crush the JI, they will crush everybody, but you will see that until now these Abu Sayyaf are just handful of people, they cannot crush it. Maybe they can just lie low for a moment and then they can spring up again. So anytime…because there is the problem that the people fighting the gov’t, element fighting the gov’t, can capitalize on the grievances of the people. So people support them, people see them as freedom fighters, people see them as mujahideen. That’s the reality. And that is why these people can exist, this element can exist. So until the problem is really, the Bangsamoro question is really addressed, you cannot expect to implement law and order in Mindanao, in the islands.

When you say there are no more JI, Abu Sayyaf, in central Mindanao why is it that the US forces are still here and their presence is expanding…they are here to train and advise local soldiers in fighting terrorists?

While it is true that we do not have any JI or Abu Sayyaf element in our controlled area, the reality also is we don’t control the whole area. There are still areas which we do not control. That is why maybe I don’t know if the us can still track down some elements over here but not in our controlled area because that is what we committed to the GRP, we will not allow any criminal elements including these terrorist groups to seek refuge in our area. But as I have said, the reality is we are not yet in control of all Mindanao.

Where are some of the areas that you have forces, your control?

During the early stage of the negotiation, the first thing we did during the Estrada admin is to identify and acknowledge MILF areas. So in that negotiation we have identified the 42 camps all over Mindanao, mainland Mindanao. And among the 42 there are 7 major camps. These are areas which are mainly concentration of our people, our military forces and during the time when the IMT was deployed, they visited all these major camps, the 7 major camps were visited by the IMT. And they know, practically they know. This agreement is counter revolutionary as far as we are concerned, because naming to the enemy where are we, is contrary to principles of guerilla warfare. But because we are sincere in really solving the problem, and isolating the criminal activities from the real revolutionaries, that is why we enumerated all our areas. Until now the gov’t knows which areas are these. Until now…as far as we are concerned, we are willing to cooperate with the gov’t, that in all these areas we will not allow any criminal elements.

What is the position of the MILF on the presence of US troops in central Mindanao?

The first thing is the Phil gov’t and the GRP have the visiting force agreement…but then as far as the milf is concerned, we don’t see the necessity for us gov’t to be here in Mindanao. We see it as just…it will only complicate the situation. Now they are justifying their presence because of they say terrorist element. But if there are terrorist element here, maybe just a handful of people…we cannot say it is an organized terrorist org. they are a handful of people. Even the Abu Sayyaf now, as far as our information is concerned, there is no more leadership of the Abu Sayyaf. They operate…every band of the Abu Sayyaf operates on its own. There is no centralized leadership, there is no org. if ever there are terrorist in Mindanao, they are not organization, unlike the terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan, they are well organized. But these terrorists here are just handful of people. I think there is no justification but we are not sure what is the agenda, real agenda of the US government in deploying its military forces. While we welcome support of the us in helping the peace process succeed because we feel that the success of the peace process is the ultimate solution to the problem in Mindanao and it will contribute very much to the efforts of the us and the international community to solve the terrorist problem. Because the reality is because of the war situation in Mindanao, terrorist group can exploit the situation because we all know that at the present situation there is no real governance in Mindanao. Nobody can say they control the situation. We cannot claim control of the situation in Mindanao. The gov’t also cannot claim control of the situation. Because of this situation anybody can exploit this situation. So that is why…and owing to the sentimental grievances of the people can also be capitalized.

Five years ago I asked you a question, ask same question now…biggest fear was militarization of youth…is this still a real concern?

That is really one serious concern. As far as the leadership of the MILF, we really want to finish off this problem within our lifetime. Firstly because we really want a solution to the problem but secondly we are afraid that now the present generation who carry on the struggle is almost passing away. This generation. It has been more than 40 years…we have spent one generation already. The next generation is born during the struggle themselves. They have been exposed to the violence, they have been exposed to the hardship of the war, and they have been longing for the solution of the problem. Now there is a concern that the next generation could be more militant and more radical because they are exposed to the violence. We can see this among the younger generation of our people. That is why you will see that even children when they play, they love to play with toy guns. Because they are always exposed to this. That is radicalization of the minds, there is a psychological effect on the next generation. So that is what we are apprehensive and what we are concerned. The longer this problem will be dragged on, then the more difficulty to solve, address the problem. That’s how we see it, until now that is how we foresee the future of this situation.

Can you name and identify one younger leader and compare

We cannot name names within the org, we really have young leaders but at this moment the milf has not seen any problem controlling them for the moment. But you see, if you see the people in the Abu Sayyaf, most of these Abu Sayyaf, most of these members of the Abu Sayyaf are very young people, mostly they are even in their teens, not even twenty, most of them. And then if you also see people who are accused of terroristic activities you will notice that most of them are young people. That speaks for itself, these people who are capable of waging more radical war will come from the young people, not from the old people. You will notice that, and this is a very clear manifestation of it.

When you said you wanted to end problem within lifetime, what is deadline, within term of Aquino?

As revolutionaries we don’t give timetable. Our approach is we struggle very much in order to solve the problem. As I have said if it could be possible within our lifetime then that will be gratifying but if it cannot be addressed, it cannot be solved within our lifetime anyway our struggle is not for us personally not for the milf but it is for the Bangsamoro people, so whether we achieve the solution in lifetime or not then anyway this is for the Bangsamoro. We will continue to struggle very much in order to solve the problem within our lifetime and we hope that the present admin will really do the solving problem approach during his term; he has six years to solve the problem and if he is really sincere in solving the problem we do not see any reason why we cannot solve the problem. But if he is only after just the same with other presidents, past administration, to manage this situation in Mindanao then I’m not very optimistic he can solve the problem.

Earlier revealed gov’t offered autonomy in final draft, what is MILF counter offer?

We have a draft, we have made our draft but unfortunately we cannot still make it public but generally what has been discussed by Mr. Diaz in his…the GRP MILF peace draft 2010. Although it’s not really our draft, not really actual but we have reviewed write-up and we found out that most or fairly about 80% of our draft is contained in his writeup. So I think Diaz is fortunate is that he was able to get some feedback from reliable people about our draft.

Generally it is a relationship between a state and a substate. We recognize the phil statehood but we need to have a substate for the Bangsamoro people. And that is how we see it. You will know that this is a sovereignty based problem, the problem is the Bangsamoro people cannot accept the reality that we were not conquered by Spain, we were not conquered by foreign power and we were former independent entities operating independently. Until now we cannot accept that we will lose such identity. That is why the only way we can give in is to have our own substate, not a bogus autonomy, because a bogus autonomy will not work. This has been proven already, many times there has been revision of autonomous setup, since Marcos…you see he implemented what is a two regional autonomous during his time, Marcos time, then it was followed by Aquino having this organic act defining autonomy…now they saying this autonomy is part of negotiations bet MNLF and GRP which is not really correct…because ARMM existed before the negotiation of the MNLF…it already existed, the organic act was already there. You cannot say the ARMM is product of a negotiation, it’s a unilateral act of the Phil gov’t. now congresswoman Arroyo is filing a bill again splitting the ARMM into two one for western Mindanao and one for central Mindanao…she might be thinking that by that gov’t can give western armm to MNLF and the central Mindanao ARMM to MILF. Naku. So going back to the formula of Marcos will not work, it will only complicate. You see the ARMM is not acceptable. Duplicating it in another way is adding more complication to the problem. It’s already unacceptable, why will you form another? This again is another misconception of a solution to the problem. I do not know if misconception or really they are trying to do the same thing…paikot. They’re trying to go around, just trying to go around, same formula, the same thing, repeating the same formula…if they are really sincere to solving the problem, then go direct to the problem. They have been questioning about transparency of the past peace process, they were saying the peace process was not transparent, that is why did not succeed.
As far as transparency and as far as consultation is concerned, the MILF on our own, have conducted so many consultations on our constituent because we should understand that here the MILF is representing the Bangsamoro people. The gov’t, the admin of Gloria at the time, is representing the gov’t of the republic of Phils. Our responsibility is to consult our constituent, the republic of the Phils, the Arroyo admin, it is their responsibility to consult or be transparent to their constituent. And who are their constituent? All the gov’t agencies. If there is a failure of consultation it is not a failure of the MILF. There is nobody in the Bangsamoro people who cried foul about they are not being consulted. It’s a failure on the approach of the Phil gov’t. so if the Aquino admin is seeing it as some shortcoming of the process, then they should concentrate on reviewing the approach the arroyo admin have done during the peace process. They will see which are the shortcoming, what are the weaknesses of the approach…what we see the Arroyo admin combined the management of the situation in Mindanao with his political interest and that complicated the approach to the problem solving which should be the right tack in this negotiation.

On the substate…does this mean, if this happens, ARMM will be absorbed?

You see as we have said, ARMM is not acceptable. And the only way to move forward is to abolish the ARMM. To abolish the ARMM. And the abolition of the ARMM needs to substitute it into another entity which will be the result of the negotiation. Arroyo was pushing for a charter change during her term. As far as the nego is concerned, our position is we have nothing to do with such effort for a charter change. While we really believe that agreement reached will need amendments or will need changes in the Phil constitution, but we are not keen to having a charter change prior to any agreement. Because having a change prior to any agreement is not at all benefitting the peace process. How can you accommodate because the thing is after a peace process a peace agreement is forged, the necessity is for the Phil constitution to accommodate the agreement. It is not the agreement will accommodate the Phil constitution, it is the Phil constitution that will accommodate the agreement, because it is a solution to the problem. How can you accommodate a solution to the problem which is not yet crafted, how can it be accommodated in the charter change? That is why we don’t speak of charter change but we speak, if there is a peace agreement, the constitution have to accommodate this, the Phil constitution. That is what they have been doing in other countries with similar problem. The agreement of the Sudanese people was accommodated by the, they need to change the Sudanese constitution…the good Friday agreement also, the same thing. There are many models all over the world. Aceh also…after the solution the Indonesian gov’t has to accommodate…how can they say that the gov’t will only negotiate within the framework of the Phil constitution? Are they solving the problem? That means they are not solving the problem, because we cannot find, if we can find the solution within the Phil constitution then we’d rather run for…we’d rather file our complaint in the sc…how we can be accommodated in the constitution. There is already the Phil constitution now if you limit your negotiation within the Phil constitution you are not solving anything because the reality is the problem is the Phil constitution because it is not giving the rights, the Phil constitution deprived the Bangsamoro people of their basic right to freedom and self determination. That is why we cannot agree to that. People have been saying how can the gov’t negotiate beyond their constitution. Then how did the Sudanese gov’t negotiated, how did the previous gov’t negotiated, beyond their constitution. They should be…it’s more than just an alibi. It’s not acceptable argument that the Phil panel cannot go beyond the constitution. When you see the moa-ad, after the SC deliberated on it and they said it is unconstitutional, well of course because there is no constitution yet that is with the moa-ad. But is the Phil constitution a divine law which cannot be amended, which cannot be opened for amendment? So yes it can be not within the framework of the constitution, but that can be done and it has been done in many countries. That is why if you are really negotiating only within the Phil constitution, that clearly means you’re just managing the situation in Mindanao and every president will just do that, they will manage the situation in Mindanao and we are not going to have a solution to the problem. So that’s how I see it.

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