Launch of the pioneering political party of the MNLF for 52 years
DATU ODIN SINSUAT, Maguindanao – The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), at peace with the government since 1996, launched its political party here on Saturday, a first since its creation in 1970.
The launch of the Bangsamoro Party (BAPA) of the MNLF was honored by senior leaders of the front from Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Maguindanao and the four provinces of the Region 12.
“We will now be active in a peaceful and participatory policy to advance our peace and development program in accordance with our peace agreement of September 2, 1996 with the national government”, Muslimin Sema, chairman of the largest and most politically active MNLF. , told reporters at the event.
The symbolic rite took place at MNLF’s Camp Ebrahim Sema here, the scene of deadly clashes between Moro guerrillas and government security forces in the 1970s through the early 1980s.
Among the senior MNLF officials who graced the activity here were three Basilan members of the Interim Regional Parliament of the New Autonomous Region of Bangsamoro in Muslim Mindanao — Hatimil Hassan, Muslimin Jakilan and Abdulmuhmin Mujahid, who is a theologian Islamic.
They all stressed that their newly launched BAPA will be a strong supporter of the BARMM government, whose chief minister, Ahod Balawag, is the chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The MNLF has its September 2, 1996 peace accord with Malacañang, negotiated by the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of more than 50 Muslim countries, including oil-exporting states in the Middle East and North Africa.
The MILF has entered into two agreements with the national government, the 2021 Bangsamoro Framework Agreement and, subsequently, the 2014 Bangsamoro Comprehensive Agreement. These paved the way for the replacement in 2019 of the autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao by a BARMM with more administrative powers.
Sema, former mayor of Cotabato town for three terms, said BAPA will be their vehicle to achieve the peace and development goals of their now 25-year final peace pact with the national government.
“Principled politics is the most sensible way to foster peace, sustainable development and progress in Bangsamoro communities in Mindanao. We don’t need guns to show the world that we are a community fighting for an identity, a land, a race and a religion, ”Sema, a thoroughbred Maguindanaon, told reporters.
The MILF has its United Bangsamoro Justice Party, organized before the creation of the BARMM via a plebiscite in early 2019 in areas covered at the time by the late ARMM.
Hassan, a member of the Yakan ethnicity who is a senior member of the 80-seat BARMM parliament, said much remains to be done to achieve full implementation of the MNLF’s September 2, 1996 peace pact with the national government.
He said they are optimistic that the newly organized BAPA can speed up the process through peaceful political activities aimed at increasing the dividends of the government’s opening up of peace with the MNLF.