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 October 29, 2001 MORO National Liberation Front Central Committee Chairman Prof. Nur Misuari hailed the unity agreement between the MNLF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chaired by Ustadz Salamat Hashim.

       Informed of the formal signing of the unity pact at his satellite Office in Cabatangan Complex, Zamboanga City on Saturday, Misuari said "This is a major turning point in our common quest for total peace, development and freedom of the Bangsamoro people."

       Senior leaders of the MNLF Central Committee led by Vice Chairman Jimmy Labawan and MILF Central Committee members led by Vice Chairman Ghadzali Jaafar held a joint meeting on October 27, 2001 at Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and discussed issues that would hasten the resolution of the Bangsamoro people in Mindanao.

       The three-point agenda tackled during the joint meeting were: To strengthen the unity and cooperation of the MNLF and the MILF so as to hasten the resolution of the Bangsamoro problem in the South of the Philippines; Assessment of issues confronting the Bangsamoro people and their struggle; and,  Holding of continuing dialogue and meeting to further discuss all remaining issues of the Bangsamoro people.

       Labawan said, "The most important thing achieved in the meeting was that we (MNLF and MILF) have already bonded our hands together for our common objectives for peace, development and freedom even though we have different movement and strategies."

       "We in the MNLF and our brothers in the MILF welcomed this development wholeheartedly," Labawan added.

       Lawyer Randolph Parcasio, MNLF chief legal counsel, said the October 27 meeting was a continuation of what has been started by Chairmen Misuari and Salamat when the former visited the latter at his main headquarters for three successive times at Camp Abubakar in Maguindanao sometimes in 1999, bringing the message of enriched peace and economic development. 

       The two Fronts, during that latest meeting, agreed to enhance the functions and workings of the Coordinating Council, a mechanism forged years way back, to fully work out for the mechanics and details of the formal unity of objectives in the fields of spiritual, political and socio-economic development of this Homeland.

       "This is the genuine unity of our movements and of the Bangsamoro people towards common and legitimate aspiration," Chairman Misuari said, even as he expressed hope and confidence that the peace efforts of the two Fronts will get the support of the oppressed Bangsamoro people and the international community of the nations, particularly the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

       The MNLF had signed a peace agreement with the Philippine government on September 2, 1996 for the establishment of the so-called "genuine, comprehensive, and lasting" political autonomy in Mindanao as a solution to the Bangsamoro issue.

       The MILF, a more radical group fighting for a separate and independent Muslim state in Mindanao, is currently holding peace negotiations with the Philippine government.

       Amidst the peace process, however, the MNLF has been frustrated following the Manila government failure to fully implement the peace accord five years since its signing. The problem was compounded by the unilateral implementation by the government of the agreement when it conducted the plebiscite on August 14, 2001 and the scheduled holding of the forthcoming regional elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on November 26, 2001.

       The MNLF views this move of the government as a complete violation of the agreement and a total disregard and disrespect to the series of Resolutions of the OIC calling for the Philippine government "not to unilaterally implement the peace accord, but instead, to honor its international binding obligations and commitments under the terms and conditions of the peace agreement."


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Copyright 2001 by MNLF, Cotabato City