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September 20, 1998 Speech Of 
Prof. Nur Misuari During
The Maguindanao Mayor's
 League Dialogue

                The distinguished governor of Maguindanao province, Datu Zacaria Candao, my brother Datu  Muslimin Sema, city mayor of Cotabato and the Secretary General of the MNLF Central Committee, my brother Datu Michael Sinsuat,  president of the Mayors League of Maguindanao province, the distinguished former governor Datu Sanggacala Baraguir, my brother Ustadz Abu Halil Yahya, the  religious leader of the people of Mindanao, my brothers and provincial officials, municipal mayors and other members of the local government officialdom in Maguindanao province, members of the ARMM cabinet, Col. Victor Corpuz, our religious, civic and NGO leaders, the distinguished datus of Maguindanao, the commanders and freedom fighters from the Bangsamoro people, both from the MNLF and the MILF, other guests, members of the media, allow me as usual to convey to you the greetings of peace,  Assalamu Alaikum Warahamatullahi Taala Wabarakatuhu. Peace be on you and the blessings of the Almighty Allah.

                Well, actually this is our formal meeting with our leaders from Maguindanao province. In the past, we used to have some meetings in certain places and during  other occasions. But this one, to me is the first of its kind with respect to our local government officials and the ARMM.

                I know there has been clamor for this meeting but while I was able to meet leaders from the other provinces of ARMM, yet I'm sorry to say that our brothers from the DILG were not able to organize my meeting with my brothers here. At any rate, I think, this is now the right time for us to take account of what happened in the course of our governance in the ARMM particularly with respect to Maguindanao province.

                But before I proceed, let me just seize at  this juncture,  to convey my abiding sense of gratitude to our brother, the distinguished governor of Maguindanao province, brother Datu Zacaria Candao for giving us the assurances of support, on behalf of our brothers from the local government of Maguindanao province, the mayors and so on and so forth for giving us the assurances of support. We thank you dear brothers for this assurance. And we would like to assure you also that we in the ARMM as well as the SPCPD, we have always been trying to find ways how to be of support to your government and the government of the other members of our family in the ARMM not to say of the SPCPD.

                But one thing, which is very, very obvious to everyone is the fact that as part of our assistance to you, we have been very, very meticulous in not encroaching or intruding into your responsibilities. I think there never was a time when we asked people from the DILG, people from the other branches of the ARMM to poke their nose, so to speak, into your affairs in the municipalities as well as of course in the provincial government.

                Because I am very steadfast in respecting your sense of autonomy. And if I did not allow anyone, including also myself to intrude to your responsibilities, it's because I have a complete faith in you. And it was always been my impression since after taking over the reign of authority in the ARMM and the SPCPD that we in the ARMM are an addendum to you that we are not here to cause the designation of your power and your responsibilities. We are here to add to what is already there, placed by the law and the government in your hands.

                Of course, there are some disadvantages to be a part of us, because we have to go through certain red tapes which you will not find if you are directly under the national government.  But I think, this is only part of the process. We could overcome this and we must overcome this. So we can facilitate our activities in our respective areas of jurisdiction. Of course, we do recognize our duty, that is to coordinate the activities of the local government to ensure full maximization of their cooperation. So we can maximize our service to our people.

But as you know, we are only 2 years in our governance. There are still many things we have to learn. And before we took over the reign of government I think you know very well that we were at the extreme opposite of the spectrum. I was one of those who were very critical of the system of government that enveloped us all here. I have always despised the bureaucratic red tapes. I have always criticized the kind of system that we have, until now I continue on criticizing the system.

                Few days ago, I was in Malacanang Palace, there was an important meeting of the Joint Monitoring Committee. The Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamorawas presiding over the meeting, Ambassador Abu Hartono, and Ambassador Azarouq were present and so with the number of generals from the AFP and the PNP. You see, I was very very critical about the system, in fact I said that because of the kind of system that we have we in the ARMM had been adversely affected.

                In the first place I would like to tell you that on day 1 of my administration, the first question that I raised was like this: I asked many of our brothers, ( the more knowledgeable ones), how do you look at the ARMM? I told them that my becoming a governor is accident of history. I never dreamed of this. In fact suggestions were put across to me by officials of the government, the first thing I did was to flee to another place but the storm brought me back to our homeland. I was already across the high seas just so I could avoid being embroiled in politics. Because I know very well that I will not be at home with the kind of system that we have.

                I was already across the sea. You can ask former governor Gerry Matba, he was the one who took care of us for three days. Before I could mount, I could embark my journey to other side of the high seas, an emissary came asking me to return back telling me that the leaders of the MNLF had gathered at Sarangbangun and they wanted me to return back. So I returned back and there, I found the leaders, well, not everyone was there but a great proportion of the key leaders of the MNLF and they presented me with a resolution. They said this is our unanimous resolution, you must run, you must accept the request of the government for you to run. I said, why should I run when I don't like the system. They said no you have to run because if you don't run, ARMM might fall into wrong hands. And the peace agreement that you have signed might go haywire.

                Because SPCPD, they said, is a do-nothing institution of governance. SPCPD cannot do anything according to the agreement and the law. And they told me that some opposition quarters were in the process of filing a petition for the annulment of our peace agreement. As a matter of fact up to this day it is still there with the Supreme Court. Opposition, some elements opposed to the peace agreement, wanted the Supreme Court to annul the peace agreement.

                As a matter of fact, the proponent of this, (a former governor) came to see me one time he said, Mr. Chairman, if only I'm not ashamed of myself of having filed (just recently, before the election) you will now find me closely associated with you. But because of that, I'm very sorry I can not associate with you, I'm very ashamed. I hope he said, that the supreme Court will dismiss that petition.

                To show to you the difficulty we are facing here, SPCPD is a do nothing institution. It cannot do anything. It has been placed in a straight jacket, so to speak. Because they don't give money. And the rationale behind that is that they said, SPCPD is not a political institution and therefore it cannot get money from the Phil. Congress, it cannot construct roads, it cannot do any infrastructure, or what so ever.

                And so what do you have? I was in congress a couple of days ago. First I went there to defend the budget of the ARMM. For 1997, we got a budget of 3.1 billion in the ARMM.  But dear brothers and sisters, don't be mesmerized by that figure or that number. That is tantamount to almost nothing because that is only intended for salaries of 19,000 human beings who should be maintained in office. You calculate how much 3.1 billion would go for one whole year. We have to pay salaries to people for twelve months, you calculate.

And for that reason, because of the scarcity of the amount given to us for 1997 not to say for the last 3 months of 1996, for 1997 we were not able to do anything. The capital outlay as it was revealed in congress was only 1%. For 1998, we got 5.6 billion but you know what happened just before I defended the budget of the ARMM. They told me that out of the  5.6 billion budget, half billion has been placed to hands of regions 12 and 9. In other words, it has been sliced out of our budget. So what do we have is only 5.5 billion. And of this total amount 25% will be deducted therefrom. So what do we have, we have roughly about 4.5 billion or even less, much less.

                And I understand from the figures that given to me that out of 1 billion intended for infrastructure only 56 million has been released. And this is already almost the end of September, after September, we have October, November, December and most of the days of December are devoted to holidays. Why? They said because of election, they said because of money, because of the financial turmoil, everyone is affected.

                I hope you understand the reason why we have not addressed the problem of our people is that there is no money for that. While there were some money intended for poverty alleviation, I think, on one occasion I was with our brothers in Cagayan de Oro City, the DILG national were the ones who distributed the money for the mayors, I was present. And as regards to the 212 million, I think the Department of Agriculture has also distributed to the governors, they got their share and the other people concerned. If there are still money left over, it's very minimal in amount, I understand. But most of the money has been distributed.

                For education, when I took over, there were more than one thousand people who have not received their pay for 2 years or even 3 years. I said, why? One Superintendent came to me pleading that I help those people. I said why, how come that out of more than 13,000  only more than 1,000 have not been paid. He said they are not qualified.  They said, the Civil Service Commission has not approved their appointment and therefore they are not in the payroll. And what did we do? We tried to source for fund, we tried to negotiate with the government and Alhamdulillah, most if not all of them have received some amount and I think a contract has been entered into by the Department of Education-ARMM with the national government and to let them continue with their contract.

At least, one time when we were in Manila, the DECS-ARMM Sec. Dr. Laja in the presence of school directors and superintendents had told us that at least 85% had been satisfactorily solved. And later on when I asked Bai Sandra the Under Sec. of DECS-ARMM, she said they were on the process of solving the rest of the 15%. And now, I've not heard of any complain. We used to be cursed by the people for not paying. They said habitual non-payment. I asked the people concerned why despite the fact, I advised them to advance the payment to at least one month. I said even before they serve, they render service, you advance their salaries for one month so that they will not be victimized by the so called 5-6. I asked them, and they told me that as regards to those who are in the payroll, (those who have eligibility) they get their pay at least 20 days ahead of the end month. But just the same, some people have been cursing us for not paying these people who are not allowed by law, and even if we want to pay them there is no money because the DBM would not give money for their salaries.

But at any rate, somehow we will be able to extend assistance to them. And apart from that, I would also like to tell you that as a consequence of the present financial turmoil, out of the money we have, for 1998, we expect a deduction in terms of the real purchasing value of our peso by at least 75-70%.

                My brother, dear governor was saying that he was lucky that he was able to purchase heavy equipment at the time when the peso was still 1 to 26/25. That's true because on July 1 the onset of the crisis in Thailand, peso was still 1 to 26 but now peso is hovering  between 43 and 45. Today it is 43. 8 something. The crisis created by the failure of the Phil. Airlines might further affect the status of the currency of the Philippines. The crisis now gripping rubble, the national currency of Russia is expected to add more burden to our money. Even worst of it, Latin America and United States of America are already affected. The people have now ______their word, they said there is a melt down in the world economy, everywhere. And if the Yuan would be depreciated either officially or unofficially then we will have world wide catastrophe, may Allah forbid. The Yuan , the Chinese national currency, people have been pleading to the Chinese government  not to ________ with the value of their money.  But the Chinese were affected by the Yangtze river and they also want to be competitive in exporting their commodities outside. And only when they reduce the value of their money that they can be competitive.

                Why did I mention this? Because of our analysis, you can ask the people around me. I have been alive to these issue. I was with Pres. Ramos in Bangkok when they discussed this subject about the economic and the financial crisis in Thailand. The Prime Minister, in fact was the one who personally stood up to invite me to join their discussion. Because I was sitting very very far from them. He stood up and came and invited me to join them. At the time Thailand was already facing very serious threat but they said we are optimistic that we can overcome by what happened.

                Since that time, I kept myself  alive to the situation here in our homeland because I wanted to shield our people from the impact of this economic melt down around the world. Of course we are very happy that a group of businessmen from China and Kuala Lumpur came to visit me. And one of them shook my hand, Mr. Governor, we congratulate you. I said why? He said you are very lucky. I said why? He said, first, we know that when you calculate business with people from outside you always tell them not to calculate in peso or in other currency but in dollar, the mighty dollar. That is a very excellent policy. Number two, he said, I think you are very lucky because you are just starting your economic rehabilitation. Had there been huge amount of dollar, circulating here, had our people contracted from banking institution in the world.

 

Tape 2:

                Other sector from the tip of Zamboanga City up to Cotabato City will be built by another group. That's why, I have to return back tomorrow because they are arriving from Seoul. The president of the Republic of Korea is sending  message to me assuring me to participate in the economic development of  Mindanao. That one is about 400 kilometers.

A proposal was sent to me through Congres1sman Jerry Salapuddin from China. They proposed that they will build for us the entire railroad. Unfortunately, the Yangtse river is making trouble for them. I'm supposed to be in Beijing on the 15th of  October. But they said, postpone a little bit not that they don't want to, not the only investment from that China will  placed here in Mindanao, no. Initially, they were talking in terms of 8 billion dollar investment.

This railroad alone will bring in at least four billion dollar. If you multiply by 40 something, that is 160 billion. That's one investment, 160 billion pesos will be brought to Mindanao.

Another investment here in Mindanao placed in my hands by the president is the Agus 3. Agus 3 will bring in about 16-17 billion pesos investment. Pre-feasibility has been done, 2 days ago  the investors met in Tokyo. They want to advance the time table for the feasibility studies because President Estrada has been asking me, please, Mr. Governor, fast track all those projects. The railroad is the darling of the president. He's giving the highest priority to this railroad.

In Cagayan de Oro, during the meeting with the leaders,1 he said this, I share the vision of the governor. The railroad is his pledge and it is also my pledge. I will not leave office until we can see the railroad run around  Mindanao. That is the pledge of the president.

Another very important landmark project is the proposed construction of the container seaport and an international airport blending the design of ______ and the gulf. And it will be built in Jolo because we are converting Jolo into a free trade zone. Now you know what is happening, our businessmen have to go to Surabaya they have to go to Menado, they have to go to Singapore, they have to go to Bangkok, they have to go to many places in the world to buy commodities here and there. If they go to Singapore buying commodities coming from places like Shanghai, there is already value added to it. That means the price is higher than when you get directly from the factory in Shanghai. Shanghai businessmen, Kuala Lumpur businessmen, Tawaw businessmen, Osakan and Tokyo businessmen have agreed with us to help us develop this.

So therefore we will become center of business. Now what is the idea behind making this Sulu and Tawi-Tawi the center of business in this part of our homeland. You look at the map, Tawi-Tawi and Sulu are very small and tiny islands. There is such a law called the __________ Law of economics. They said in their  postulate that willy nilly population, the increase of population would outstretch the capability of the land to feed such population. We are very small and tiny islands. We have the agricultural sector of economy cannot feed our citizens. That's why you see them as far as Surigao, as far as Davao, many palces. Because the island of Jolo is just too small to accommodate this teeming number of population.

So, once we become a free trade zone, commodities would come directly to us. Not only that we will continue to be  consumers or users of that but we will also become a distributor. So we can distribute instead of getting commodities from Singapore and like that perhaps one day we can turn the table and we can send commodities to them instead. We send commodities to Luzon and Visayas even as we send also commodities to every part of Mindanao. On the other hand commodities coming from Mindanao do not have to go through Manila. They can go to our free trade zone so that, that way it will be more profitable for our people.

Apart from that, there is also an investor for the Polloc port. They want to improve the facilities of the Polloc port and in fact the plan is to make Polloc maybe the biggest port in the whole of Mindanao. A group of congressmen are expected to arrive very soon, six of them, Insha Allah, I will escort them to Polloc port. I will ask our  governor to help us in this. We will try to entice them to develop. Another port, they are procuring money about from 1/2 - 1 billion for the innovation and rehabilitation of another port. I have not told anything about this to the media because I want to start with the infrastructure first before I invite the media. Because people are always sarcastic. They always think us as if we are making pies in the sky.

And there is another project. According to Col. Eddun, an investor is coming. I don't know how will we  receive this but I have contacted Datu Dima because Datu Dima has sent me  sample of a lime stone which is 90% cement and this was brought already to United States of America. According to Col. Eddun, an information has been sent from the USA that the gentleman is coming by the middle of October. He already has assembled equipment for that cement for about 13. 8 billion pesos, the equipment alone and the capital investment apart from that 520 million dollars. I hope one day the gentleman will come. I have met him already. He's an old friend of President Ramos. They fought together during the Korean war. Now he has become a big businessman and Ramos sent this gentleman  to see me because he wanted to build a factory in Cebu. But the lime stone is only 45% cement. So he is interested to explore here. There are many other investors.

But let me just tell you about the road we are making in Jolo. The government has given us 596 million. One time, before the approval of our budget, we were asked to submit our proposal. I was there to defend the budget with my brother here, he submitted 10 billion for SPCPD. And I submitted 14 billion, out of the 14 billion, we got, as I said, 5.5 billion minus half billion, so 5.1 B minus the depreciation of the peso, minus 25 reserved fund so you have only skeletal budget. For him, he submitted 10 billion but out of 10 B, he got only 110 million minus 25%, so that's the kind of budget that we have.

At any rate, even with this deduction we still have 447 million. Now the budget 14 Billion was a very ambitious one.  We wanted to rehabilitate Mindanao, at least, the 4 provinces ravaged by the war for more than 2 decades. And besides, it's part  of the peace agreement. In the peace agreement it was stipulated that the government would have a budget serve to give us all the necessary infrastructure. They will finance the reconstruction of the  roads, hospitals, airports, seaports, market places and housing. And this would come in the mini-martial plan for reconstruction and rehabilitation. But nothing of that kind was materialized. There is no such thing as mini-martial plan. They forgot all about this. And even the budget we have is still small. But at any rate the 447 million after the deduction, we have now inaugurated the 10-lane circumferential road. The 10-lane circumferential road will go around the island of Jolo, 140 kilometers stretch. I have asked the government to fast track the release of this funds. But I understand from Sec. Jajurie - how much money have you received out of the 447 - only 33 million.

And I think this money might go back to the treasury of the government unless we are able to use before the end of the fiscal year. Only 33 million but we have already undergone earth works for more than 10 kilometers. And  we intend to accomplish this in matter of months, Insha Allah. We are expecting more than a hundred equipment coming from somewhere very soon. And with this we will ask our brothers to do the work day and night. The first thing to do is the earth works and go graveling and then if we can have extra money then we can start cementing or asphalting. The work will proceed step by step that way. My purpose in making this big road is in order to give impetus to our economic development in Jolo. Because businessmen would be happy to travel in a very safe and very wide road, and that's exactly what we intend to do.

We hope that we can get the money from the government and I'm very glad to note that when I defended the budget although I gave full freedom to the government (to the Congress) to slice up as much  money as they wanted from it or to add. They said okey, we approved your budget in toto both from ARMM and SPCPD. So we'll have small augmentation for our road, maybe a hundred million. I think with this money we can finish this road Insha Allah.

I wanted to consume much more time because there are many thing I wanted to report to you since this is our first meeting. But let me just tell a few things about the Mindanao Agenda. During our meeting with the president in Cagayan de Oro a few days ago, he was asked, Mr. President what about the Mindanao Agenda, the covenant that you have signed? What do you intend to do with that? Right away the president said this, "I am going to call for a constitutional convention and I will introduce the Mindanao agenda specifically the regionalization of the senate. I think you know very well that I have been demanding for the democratization of the system. Because the Phil. Constitution to me is less than being democratic. If at all it is only democratic to our people in Luzon and the Visayas, but very undemocratic and unfair to our people of Mindanao.

Until the May 11 election, we have no representatives at all. And the people who represent us now in the senate, they are originally from the Luzon and the Visayas. The native people here (Muslim and Highlanders) are always at the receiving end. Why like this? Because if a certain Muslim  runs he only gets votes from here. But if a certain Christian form Mindanao runs he gets votes from here, he gets from his place of origin and he gets votes from Luzon. So how can you beat them. We cannot beat candidates from  Luzon and the Visayas nor can we Muslims and Highlanders from Mindanao beat those who originally came from there. Because they have already stocks of votes already waiting in the Luzon and Visayas. So we are always at the receiving  end. So the strategy here, to democratize the system is for us to actively participate in the constitutional convention.

And not only that, last night, Fr. Mercado hinted to me his desire for a Mindanawan seat with this Preparatory Commission. There is a Commission being prepared to outline the kind of changes to be introduced to the constitution. I think we must send good quality people to participate in that so that we can have this change suitable for our people and for our posterity. At the same time there are now talks going around, people are soliciting opinions as to whether or not it is good  to go federal. Even my brother was consulted, brother Datu Mus Sema, by some people of some places. I said there's nothing as long as it will add more freedom to our people here.

Autonomy gives more freedom except that it is a transitional mechanism, we can not do much. All what we do in the SPCPD is to submit resolutions to Malacanang. Before, we used to meet every month, so _______ were the members of the Consultative Assembly, that before we knew, we had a big file of resolutions. But none of them have been carried out by the government. So what's the use.

And therefore we decided to meet once after two and a half months. So you can imagine the deterioration in our spirit when in fact when I called for people to join us in the Consultative Assembly until now I have not received applicants. They don't want to serve anymore in the SPCPD. And last Friday when they asked me to defend our budget for SPCPD, this was the exact word that I gave the Congressmen and Congresswomen who were presided over by Cong. Lualhati Antonino, (one of the oppositions of the SPCPD). I told her "Madame Chairwoman, I would like to assure you that anything you will do to the budget goes with us, you want to add, add, you want to retain, retain, you want to reduce, reduce, you may even scrap the SPCPD. I don't mind, after all it's useless. It's only creating "Fitna". People are thinking as if  SPCPD can address the problem of our people. No, it cannot. It's an illusion. They give us only 86 million, last year it was 110 now it is only 86 minus 25%, minus the depreciation of the value of the peso, we'll have nothing at all. So don't expect us to do anything. That's why, I said if you want to get rid of the SPCPD, get rid, I don't mind, honestly, Allah is our witness. I don't mind seeing by SPCPD ______  our ________. Because, if we proceed with, let say, the question of  the referendum, people would want to have the referendum to serve their  vested interest, their hidden agenda.

There are those who want the referendum to be held in 1999. Question is - do we want the repetition of the tragedy that happened on the 7th of March this year? You know what happened to the referendum in the Cordilleras, because of the negative result of the referendum, the autonomy has been cooked lately obliterated. There is no more autonomy in the Cordilleras. Now what's happening here, I understand what happened, as I told Malacanang during our JMC meeting. I said the reason why the referendum was a total failure was because, not only those who were opposed to the autonomy were opposed but even those who used for the autonomy were also the ones who ensured the failure of the referendum. Why? I gave the answer to them. Both those who fought for it and those who are opposed worked together for the failure of the referendum because as to those fought it and turn their back on the autonomy because they knew that the autonomy was going be placed in the hands of  local government officials, they said. My wife got telephone calls from here friends from the Cordilleras telling her should you have this referendum in 1998, you will face the same problem. The autonomy might be completely obliterated.

So if there will be no  more autonomy because of the failure of the referendum, what will happen? We might be pushed back to square one. And people  asked me all the time, what will happen should you be backed to square one. I said, my guess might be as good as your guess. During the time of Marcos we were pushed back to square one because we were betrayed, the autonomy was not carried out. The Tripoli Agreement was not implemented. As Imelda Marcos said in an interview with Liwayway or Graphic, there was a full quotation coming directly from her lips. She said, "why should we implement the Tripoli Agreement when we have already achieved everything from it".  That's the exact words. And this was brought to the attention of the 1977 ICFM. And because of that we were made observer in the OIC because they said they are not going to implement.

What happened after that? There was war. Did I like that war? No. I never wanted war. I will never ask for war. I never invited anyone to aggress on us and impose war on our people. Everytime there is war in Mindanao, it's our people, our children, our women and our old folks who get victimized by the war. It's not our sisters in  Luzon and the Visayas were get raped. It is our women here who were get raped by the thousand. It's not  our brothers and sisters in Luzon were get massacred even in the tranquilities of our people, it's our people. Why should we want war. We resort to war only if there is no more choice in the exercise of our right of  self-defense. As Muslims, if your integrity, your religion and culture and homeland is being transgressed upon it is our sacred duty to fight back and defend your right otherwise you will go to hell. You go to hell, if you don't defend, if you don't exercise your right of self-defense.

There never was any moment in the life of our people when our people aggressed on other people's homeland. We were always be the victims. Was it our fault when Spain imposed 377 wars on our homeland? Was it our fault when the Dutch fought against us here? Was it our fault when the Americans imposed war on us? When Japan imposed war on us. Was it our fault when the Phil. Armed Forces imposed war on us, was it your fault, my fault or the fault of those among our people who have perished in the war? No. It's the fault of the aggressors. The Holy Koran is very precise, Allah tells us "be not the aggressor for Allah does not like the aggressor".

In my instructions to my commanders in the field, I always emphasized, I always highlighted the instructions that the Prophets Mohammad (s. a. w.) and Khalif Omar (R. A.) and the other Khalifs used to give to the warriors: "don't kill children, don't kill  women, don't kill old folks, don't kill the wounded, don't destroy houses, don't destroy churches, trees, etc". This is the definition of Islamic civilized warfare.

Now, this is the situation why we don't like war. I don't like war to happen because I don't like to account before God. One day, I'm going to return back to Him. I don't like to account for the life and for the blood of our people. But then, if despite all of these cautions, still people would, you know,  force us to defend our right in the exercise of our fundamental rights of self-defense, then what can we do, because Allah will also ask us what happened. Why did you not defend you rights? So I would like to ask people from the media.

I cannot afford to betray and have war with the government, why should I, for what reason? Why should we  precipitate war here when we are going to be the victims again? What I want is peace. As I said, when I took my oath of office here in Cotabato City, remember- this was my  words, having signed the peace agreement it is now our wish and the wish of the people of Mindanao that there shall be no more recurrence  or recycle of violence of blood bath and bloodletting in Mindanao. We stick to it. That's why, we have been asking the congress, please don't take any precipitous action. Don't precipitate another war in Mindanao.

Because what do you think will happen? If there will be no more autonomy, what step will the people take. Do you think they will fight for autonomy again. No more. Because that will prove my contention, as I told the Islamic Summit of the 54 member-nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference again and again, it is my belief I said that it is much easier to gain independence for Mindanao than to get autonomy. But just the same, we have to succumb to their pressure because they said you must negotiate for autonomy. So we negotiated, then we got autonomy.

Now, we got the autonomy on paper but there is no material component to autonomy what's going to happen? And if they take a precipitous action to hold referendum, what will happen? There are nothing visible that can attract the people to support autonomy here. Now if the autonomy as stipulated in the agreement will fizzle out, I'm afraid people might go extreme. Either they go to the MILF or to the Abu Sayaff or to the ICC, (the same group that claimed the authorship of Ipil accident) or maybe, a hundred maybe, the MNLF would now fight for independence once and for all.

Thank you.                                  

 

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