of MNLF Chairman
Nur Misuari During the 9th Joint Monitoring Committee Meeting
May 25, 1999, Tuesday
Sulo Hotel, Manila
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
At any rate I'm happy that I'm here and I am happy
to hear what is transpiring across the table.
I would just like to point out some issues or
of all, I hope my brother will not mind this, there is
nothing personal here.
He is familiar with our principle, with our
position ever since. You see ever since when we had our
initial contacts with the government in their attempts to
convince us to come to the negotiating table,
we were always opposed to their proposal to let us,
we Muslims, negotiate among ourselves.
As if to make it appear that this is a problem
between Muslims themselves.
So with due respect to the opening statement of my
brother here, I would like to remind this body that MNLF
has never changed its position.
We don't want anyone to tinker with the character
of these talks, with this peace process. This is a problem between the Bangsamoro people represented
by the MNLF and the Philippine government. So therefore, I
hope this has nothing to do with that attempt to dilute
the character of this.
I am very sorry I have to say this, I have all
respect for my brother here, he knows my personal feeling
towards him but it's just a matter of principle.
I hope you can understand this.
Secondly, the government ever since has been
adopting this counter-insurgency program of trying to make
it appear before the eyes of the world as if the war in
Mindanao is a war between the Muslims themselves.
So they mobilize great number of people to unarm
them, give them all those instruments of death use them
against us in order to make it appear especially for the
eyes of the Islamic World that this problem is a problem
between Muslims themselves.
I just wanted to remind you of this because we
don't want anyone, as I said, to tinker with the character
of the problem. This
is a problem between the government and the MNLF
representing certain interest, respective interest of
And thirdly, I would like to point out that while
our people, our brothers here are so anxious to ask the
government to implement the peace agreement, yet, one
thing is very, very clear here.
The government has already violated the peace
they have not utilized nearly three years of the
transitional period to enable us to do something -
something visible, something beneficial - in order to
convince the people of the wisdom of having an autonomy
for them. If
my memory is correct, the signing of the peace agreement
was on the 2nd of September 1996.
Barely one week later election came and shortly
after the election, our swearing in as governor and so on
and so forth. And
also followed by our appointment as chairman of the SPCPD.
Within this period of time, we were expected to
produce something very visible to convince the people that
our struggle was not in vain.
But wittingly or unwittingly, what the government
has done was to make us appear as if we are useless, to
make us appear as if we are incompetent, to make us appear
as if we are a total failure.
This is the effect of their strategy, their
They want our people to be stranged from us, they
want our people to be isolated from us, they want us to
become pariahs so to speak, in our homeland.
I'm saying wittingly or unwittingly.
If you reckon with the timetable, from the day 1 of
the advent of the ARMM and SPCPD, until now, already we
have consumed up, if my reckoning is correct, nearly 2
years and 9 months. Because
we started with the September as the timetable and
September to the end of year 1996 you have 3 months.
Now we are fifth month of 1999 so you add 3 plus 5
or 6, it's years and 8 months. Nearly, if you start from the beginning of the political
exercise on September 2, 1996 is already 2 years and 9
months and all of this has gone to waste. In the sense
that we have not done much, we have not done anything
there is an attempt to belittle the promise of the
government about the mini-marshall plan.
Mini-marshall plan to my understanding was proposed
as an organic body to carry out massive reconstruction and
rehabilitation program precisely in order to attract the
people to the new institution and be able to convince them
that indeed there is wisdom in having autonomy in Mindanao
as an alternative to the persistent demand for
idea was to really make this institution successful, not
to make this institution as an instrument to create
dissension, frustration and demoralization among the
people in order to compromise our honor and integrity
But what happened is nothing has been done about it
and even this ARMM with the best of intention, we joined
the ARMM because of the so many promises and pledges, the
government is telling us that this is going to be the last
and final election, first and foremost; secondly, take
over, brother Nur, they said, well because you have to use
this as an instrument for implementing the peace
all, the SPCPD, I believe, their intention was really to
make this innocuous to make the SPCPD something next to
what did they do because they told me in so many words
that the idea of making this institution almost literally
useless in implementing the peace agreement is because
they were afraid lest we play into the hands of the
opposition. They said there was a boggy, they were trying to tell us and
show to us that the opposition to the peace agreement has
filed a law suit before the Supreme Court, the highest of
the land, asking for the annulment and abrogation of the
peace agreement. Because
of that so they decided to belittle and to make this
institution, the SPCPD, which was the crux of the matter
for us literally useless.
If it's useful, it's only because some humanitarian
assistance have been brought in.
But in terms of implementing anything from the side
of the government, it is useless.
It has done nothing because the government says it
cannot do anything without jeopardizing the peace
And then they tell us, take over the ARMM and along
with some institutions. OMA was never turned over to us.
SPCPD only during the previous administration when
we had the head, but all the members of the board, to my
mind, did not belong to us.
So we didn't able to do much and there was no
funding, not much funding.
But inspite that we tried our best to produce
something. But later on, SPDA has been taken away from us.
They try to come to us with all those alibis so
they took us by such thing, but when we try to ask them to
rectify, there have been some problems.
Until now, we are in an impasse.
I have discussed this subject matter with my
friend, Mr. Roberto Aventajado, Presidential Adviser on
Flagship Projects, on several occasion. The last time we started discussing from almost 6 o'clock
until almost 10 in the evening just before I went to
Mindanao but to no avail. We are not making so much
progress because they insist that he will do the work for
us to his own people.
So we told them we have a culture here in Mindanao.
If you do the work for us, you will just make us a
laughing stock among our people, because people will never
give any credit to us unless they see that our hand soiled
and our hands are the ones performing the task.
If we tell them, well, it was done in our names,
then they will just laugh us off.
They think that we are useless -- without
Aventajado and his men and nothing could be done about it.
Now you talk about the task force.
The task force is a misnomer.
It was not doing anything because there was no
project to supervise, in the first place.
My brother is saying they gave more than 1 million
annual budget for the task force in Central Mindanao, but
they are not doing anything, because they are not
The task force in Basilan, well it does not exist
at all, at least to the best of my mind.
So all of these are, I would say, I hope you don't
mind me use this term, these are all hypocritical.
Now you want to implement the peace agreement only
at the tail end of it.
We are just barely three months to the end. This last two years and nine months, you have done nothing to
convince us that you are sincere in giving us autonomy as
an alternative to our demand for independence, for the
decolonization of our homeland.
We bended too much already to the extent of
creating division among us.
Without our decision to go autonomous to accept the
advise there of the Islamic World, the OIC to opt for
autonomy, we would have remain, until now, one and unified
parlance, one and unified organization in pursuit of a
common demand for the decolonization of our homeland and
for the establishment of a free independent sovereign
state in Mindanao. But
because we have to listen to them, we don't want to be
isolated from our brothers in the world.
So you told us, okay, we give you autonomy as an
alternative to that but at the same time you are
There were some American personalities who came to
give me peace award, then later on just before I reached
Marawi City, there were lots of people waiting for me in
the mountain, in the city and everywhere. I was told that
was fighting. There
was fighting around the area of NAPOCOR.
Five soldiers have been killed.
About 300 to 400 forces are encircled by the
used helicopter gunships in an attempt to destroy our
people there. And
it so happen this includes civilians, MNLF and MILF which
is very dangerous. I
asked Gen. Edgardo Espinosa, I said please, that very
evening as soon as I got the report, please order Gen.
Santos B. Gabison, Jr. and your commanding officers in the
field not to escalate because these could be very
sensitive and it could create flashpoint for us there
especially if the children and the women are killed.
But the following morning I heard at 11 o'clock in
the morning, that was the very time after I called up and
he promised to call Gen. Gabison in Cagayan de Oro.
I understand they fitted some helicopter gunships
and they started sending rockets to our areas.
I brought some of the splinters of these small
rockets or missiles.
They brought it to me and we smelled it and it was
very fresh. I
promised the people I said I will call.
I think I called up Gen. Espinosa, Gen. Angelo
Reyes, even Defense Sec. Orlando Mercado but all my
attempts have been a failure.
So I tend to that and I want to request this
honorable body to do something about this because the
danger here is that there are more 200 MNLF forces there,
and there are nearly 200 MILF forces in the area.
And both of them are now preparing to protect the
people. And I
think you have to do something to investigate what the
NAPOCOR is doing.
You are drawing resources from our people's water,
you have built 6 Agus and you were able to produce 720
megawatts and you are sending this energy to various parts
of Mindanao. And
you have obtained loans from the World Bank, you are
preparing to put up some kind of a cable or what to send
our energy to Leyte or Leyte to Mindanao. I don't know what is the process here, at the cost of US$230
is the same money that was promised to me and brother
Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema when we went to Paris to
ask for assistance. But
now it has been diverted.
And the people there complained to me.
Brother Nur we are surprised, these people are
squeezing everything from us, but they are charging us the
highest rate for our electricity. I don't know what is the reason why. And so many of the barangays around are still in total
darkness because they have not laid the cable to them and
I don't know why.
So therefore, I would like to ask this august body
that will address this problem immediately, I think there
must be some kind of a conspiracy between the people in
the NAPOCOR. I
just cannot pinpoint, but there is suspicion of conspiracy
among them and like that to the detriment of the people
there are many other things, in fact, I wanted to pinpoint
another point here I hope that you understand that the
position that spelled out by the brother here is MNLF
have called an enlarge meeting of the Central Committee of
the MNLF and I went to various places to brief our
The other day in Marawi City, they were about 500
to 600 commanding officers of the National Armed Forces of
the MNLF from Marawi, from Lanao Sur, from Lanao Norte.
I understand there were some people who came as far
as Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental.
They were anxious to know what is happening to the
peace agreement. Until
now they, in the national commands, have not felt
anything. Only the state authorities have benefited from this. We, said
the much-vaunted dividends of peace have not touched our
lives and the lives of our family and our parents at all.
So they are inquiring they said we are not coming
to an end and nothing is happening.
And secondly, I would like to just remind this
august body that, first of all, indeed, we in the MNLF
stick to our standpoint that the elections, if held, will
be a gross violations of the peace agreement.
And if they push through, that could probably bring
about an end to the peace agreement.
Secondly, we would like to say that with respect to
the referendum, we believe that after you have defaulted,
you are unable to despite all of these alibis defaulted in
carrying out your duties and obligations now there is no
more agreement on referendum.
If you want to have a referendum then let us have a
tripartite meeting at the highest level.
So we can discuss the modalities how to hold that
that referendum must be a win-win case because under no
circumstance that the GRP peace panel or the national
government can take any action that would lead to the kind
of tragic result as happened in the Cordilleras.
If that happens then the world will point their
fingers of accusation to you that for the third time
around you betrayed us, you betrayed our people and
betrayed the peace.
And I want to be very frank and very
straightforward so that no one will be deceived or be
position has always been very clear.
So I hope that the parties concern here will be
guided properly. We
in the MNLF tried our best to comply with our commitment
and our obligations.
If there is peace between us, between the AFP and
the Armed Forces of the MNLF, It's because the MNLF has
fulfilled its commitment, so there is peace between us.
Its not a total peace but it is better than when we are at
tens of thousands of your forces are pinned down in this
long contentious lines, those dangerous battlefields, and
it is in fact, you must remember, that the peace agreement
has been so advantageous to you.
Because of that, you were able to free thousands
and thousands of your forces from their commitment to
contain us, to prepare any kind of hostilities against us.
And because of that the NPA has suffered because
they told us the one thing that have caused so much
disadvantage on their part is the Armed Forces after the
signing of the peace agreement has already succeeded in
mobilizing forces to contain them everywhere.
And this is a big advantage to you.
And not only that. Even our brothers in the MILF,
they are also complaining.
Because of the peace agreement between our forces,
you are able now to mobilize as much forces that used to
be tied down in Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del
Sur and del Norte and various areas under MNLF-controlled
But what do we get?
All what we got is frustration.
As a matter of fact, last night I left my office at
around 1 o'clock as usual.
Because there were several of our people, chairmen
of our committees in Lanao del Sur who came to complain
and demanded for a change in our committee.
They told me they have brought this case to you
this problem is the result of these economic activities we
are doing there. Only
a small portion of our people have been touched by the
dividends of peace and the rest they are in the quandary
in the lurch. So
they are now suspecting, they said, that the leaders have
stolen those things etc, etc. when the assistance is so
any rate, I told them that we are going to have a
full-dressed investigation because they are charging our
leaders of having stolen, of having absconded with what
have been given to them by the government, UNDP, ELAP and
on and so forth. So
you see the assistance you gave to us only creates
something that ....it's like a medicine, you give us a
kind of medicine to create so much side effects. The chairman of the revolutionary committee of the MNLF in
Lanao Sur is now the subject of complaint.
They want him to be removed.
And they threatened last night if you will not
remove him, we will to the other side.
I'd like to tell you, when I went the second time
around to Camp Abubakre As-Siddique, I brought 1800 forces
because when the last time I went there, I had only about
400 or 500 forces. So
this time I said prepare for me over a thousand forces
from Matanog, Barira and Buldon.
When I went they were not ready.
And you what happened?
The forces that protected the camp of brother Ustaz
Salamat Hashim, I will not say all, but the great majority
of them were formerly MNLF.
And part of them happened to be forces of our
brother which is now subject of a complaint.
Now this is the result, because of some kind of
this treatment, you are driving our people to the MILF and
they bring their arms with them and this will strengthen
their demand for greater autonomy or even independence.
The failure of this autonomy could, mind you, mean
a windfall for a demand for independence.
Our success could possibly undermine that demand.
People could be convinced, as brother Ustaz Salamat was
telling me, brother Nur carry on with your demand for
genuine autonomy. He was present, he can vouch to that. He even told the media afterwards, carry on with your demands
for genuine autonomy.
If you succeed, we will support you, and there is
no need for us to continue on fighting. If you succeed,
what's the use? However,
he was still a little bit skeptical, he said we don't see
any concrete sign about the sincerity of the government to
push through with peace agreement.
And therefore I would like to ask you, he said, to
give me a pledge, a word of honor, that if I get
independence through my own initiative, you should be the
first man on the surface of this earth to extend your
congratulation to me.
And this what I told him and I want to put it on
record. I told him if I see, not only that I will be the first on to
congratulate you, but if we will be proven failure and
that you will succeed, then we will dissolve this
hypocritical autonomy and we will ask the people to go to
you to support you. There's
no problem with me, I can give way to him, or to anyone. If I believe that this autonomy is already useless, then why
should I carry on with a useless kind of war.
I don't like to waste my time.
I hope my message is clear and I hope that you will
take this seriously when I said this, it's not me alone
who said this. You
go around, ask our leaders in the field they will tell you
even much more serious than this.
But I appreciate my brother here for ___ despite
the fact that we have barely few months to go, he is to
still able to master that courage to ask for the
government to extend all those kind of assistance to
implement etc, etc. but to me it seems now, I don't know,
I have been toying with the idea, maybe, because of the
fact that we are now at the tail end - just a few months
to go - I don't know, no matter how much money you will
pour into Mindanao. It
will be almost useless.
It's already too late especially if you hold this
elections, you hold a pre-mature referendum that cannot
ascertain a win-win case for autonomy.
I don't know what's going to happen.
I want to say more but I have already occupied so
much of you precious time.
I came here just to add to this discussion and
after this until I listen to the... I would like to ask to
be excused because I have another meeting with people in
hope you don't mind that I will listen to the statement of
the honorable Sec. Alexander Aguirre.
We are not trying to
belie, maybe it is just a matter of oversight.
This SOCSARGEN CLEAN? was not renewed by Ramos.
It was kept in a suspension and a suspended
ammunition, annimation, so to speak, nothing they give no
funding, they no human being to do the work etc, etc. with
only this gentlemen came and you told you try to use that. But this is an attempt actually, wittingly or unwittingly, to
get the air as if it were from our back to get the SPCPD
and ARMM back. The
MAGLANCO was an attempt to fragment the ARMM two provinces
in the mainland. The
intention to our mind was just to leave Tawi-Tawi and Sulu
under our jurisdiction, after the most important thing to
address the post-war problem of our people is economics.
And therefore they took the 2 provinces and added
several areas and cities including the city under the
jurisdiction of my brother here and place it under the
jurisdiction of MAGLANCO.
But we salute the President for his wisdom and we
thanked him for that because that is a very serious
told Sec. Aventajado that, first time he called, he
requested my presence at his office at Pacific Star and we
discussed we have a very sumptuous food and I told him
this is my first time I see this document or a design by
the President, but I feel off-hand this will encroach on
the integrity of the ARMM and the peace agreement, better
study it carefully. So
the last time when I met him he said well the mistake of
his secretaries. He
overlooked so many things and so on and so forth, anyway,
we thanked the President.
The more you rectify the better for us I'm sure.
There's another attempt, in fact, I saw a document signed
by congressmen, governors, and mayors etc, etc. and
putting Mindanao under one economic authority and they
requested that the President will stop and put up a
political entity to match that thing.
I don't know what happening now, but that only goes
to show really that the peace agreement ____is of no
moment to anyone. That
the peace agreement is so meaningless to them, they are
not that careful. That's
why we feel sometimes that the GRP peace panel is far
behind in its effort to educate the people there.
Because the most devastating opposition is right
from within the ruling party itself.
Do I have to name who are trying to destroy the
peace agreement? And
for what reason?
And another thing is there is a one point he mentioned
about section so and so and Phase I of so and so and Phase
III then Phase II of the peace agreement.
I hope you understand Mr. Secretary that the reason
why we had to put that in Section I Phase I is the
intention to implement first phase.
Then you mentioned something that would undermine
the integrity of that pertinent provision.
What does it mean?
What was your intention?
After agreeing to that agreement in Phase I and
then you are inserted a provision I don't think it came
from us. It
must have come from your side.
If that was your intention then there was something
hanky-panky business there.
We put these provisions in Phase I, the intention
was to implement it during Phase I.
Try to rectify this because of your explanation is
correct then some people I don't know who tried to put one
over us. And
this is very dangerous.
Already in Tripoli 1976, they pirated one provision
that is now the cause of this trouble for all of us.
Our impression is that all of these appointment and like
that is well within the competence of the President.
In fact, we tried in the beginning, I recommended
someone to the court of appeals right away.
And then we try to recommend by some other places
but they said well it was already committed.
I recommended my brother here to head the OMA.
But they said it was already committed to somebody.
And then we recommended for the same reason but
this is my understanding, but the problem is they are
trying to twist the interpretation so that we will not be
Anyway, I think there are two interpretations here.
I don't know which one is right.
It could be the government, it could also be the
therefore there is reason for to take recourse to a third
party to iron out the kinks.
I think it's important we discussed these because
our people have always been asking because that have been
in their minds. Every
time we meet with our people they will always say, how
come until now we are not represented in the government
because the idea was for us to be ... that's why I as a
matter of fact even before we signed the peace agreement I
remember some people form you panel coming to me on
several ocassions asking me to recommend already.
Like Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Before I leave first I would like to, on behalf of my
brothers here and my sisters, I like to convey our
appreciation for suggestions or for the proposal and you
count on our full support. Secondly, I would like to say in passing first remember the
peace negotiation was commenced by people from the office
of the speaker, de Venecia was the one who sent with the
_____ of President Ramos.
So we saw before us, the distinguished Cong. Ermita
in Tripoli and also Cong. Nuljaafar and of course their
advisers, they were the ones.
But I understand its Congress now that's making
things difficult as if what was committed by the previous
Congress is not obligatory on their part, this is very far
because don't forget that we still have a long way to go. If you do, you will to continue plan the seeds of these
thrusts on our part, then you might find difficulties with
us and other movement in the future.
Secondly, I'd like to invite the attention to the fact
that for the last 9 or 10 months, Consultative Assembly
has not met, or because the appointment of the
Consultative Assembly has not been approved by ____.
We have been very fastidious in following your
advice, that all of us had to tend our resignation, so we
tended our resignations.
Only the Executive Council has been renewed.
But without this Consultative Assembly renewed and
reappointed, we cannot do anything.
Although Consultative Assembly is as good as
useless because we have been trying to produce so many
recommendations but to no avail.
You see, we are like fools already, I'm sorry to
And the third one,
we have trying to produce one high-impact project.
And this is the Sulu circumferential road.
But excellencies and Mr. Secretary, it is very
lamentable that the last time we received funding was in
November last year. The
President advised Vigilar to sent an investigating team.
They went around the area and they stayed for
several days, and I understand there was a draft report
they mentioned to me their happiness that the value of the
work we have done is very much more than the value sent to
us. They said
how will you able to manage this without money? But the most important thing here is that we look at this
project as the only the project that can have some meaning
to the people. Give
us the chance. Give
us the benefit of the doubt.
And my last words, I now take my leave.