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MESSAGE OF PROF. NUR MISUARI

DURING THE TRIPARTITE MEETING
ON OCTOBER 1, 1999

H.E. Mr. Chairman, Representatives of the OIC Ministerial Committee of the Six, H.E. Ambassador Manuel Yan and his colleagues in the GRP peace panel, my brothers in the MNLF peace panel, Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Taala Wabarakatuhu.

          Before I proceed, I would like to take the opportunity to extend our warmest welcome to H.E. Ambassador Kiam of the Republic of Senegal for being with us in our very crucial meeting. And also our brother from the Great Libyan Arab Jamaheriya, who is here in his capacity as the  representative of his government. And let me extend to you this greeting of peace again, Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Taala Wabarakatuhu.

          First of all, Iím very happy to listen to the guidelines of the Chairman with respect to the proceedings and also with respect to the reiteration of the OIC proposal to have an Memorandum of Agreement  in order to guide us in our concerted efforts to implement the Peace Agreement, I would say, correctly. Because the impression that we have in the MNLF, I donít know in the world community, is that the implementation for the last 3 years has been quite flawed and erratic and I would say, I share the impression of the first 3 years of the implementation was a miserable failure. And Iím also happy to note the statement of H.E. Ambassador Yan and the definition of authority given to him and his panel by his government. It seems, it is very limited and very much circumscribed by what the Philippine Congress has decided. And this again highlights our impression that indeed here in the peace process after the signing of the Peace Agreement, we are now operating within, I would say, within the jurisdiction of the GRP peace panel. By this, they seem to have arrogated quite incorrectly the authority to present to us everytime a fait accompli solutions to all problems that we face in the process of the implementation of the Peace Agreement. We came here with the impression that our minds should be opened for possible rectification of  what have we done in the past three years in order to bring the implementation process closer to target, closer to our understanding. But now it seems everything has to be subsumed to the Philippineís decision making body, to the Philippine laws and everything would come in the shape of a fait accompli solution. This is consistent with the strategy of the Philippine Peace panel in the past, when everytime they wanted us to come close to their position. They have fixed their position and it seems that without Congress, without imprimatur from Congress they can not move, they can not badge an inch so to speak therefrom.

I would like also, for purposes of  clarification that, should there be   agreement to the extension of the terms of the ARMM and SPCPD and of course the Peace Agreement, I would like that it should go without saying that the joint monitoring system be extended also automatically.

And Excellencies, I would just like to add that the rationale behind all  of these is first and foremost, our desire that the Peace Agreement will triumph, will be successful. Because these Peace Agreements are the only solutions that we know of, that could restore the faith of the Bangsamoro people in the government of the Republic of the Phillippines. Donít forget Excellencies that we the Bangsamoro people, we have a legacy of many, many centuries of independent sovereign existence. As  early as 15th century, already we were considered by no less than the emperor of China as the Master of the East.

As a testimony to that fact that we were a master of ourselves and our destiny. The Sultan of Sulu is still in Chinese territory  owing to the invitation of the Chinese government. The Crowned Prince had visited the mausoleum of their grand parents long before, now the sultan himself went with a delegation upon invitation of the Chinese government. You know very well that in 1417, one of our sultans died in Chinese territory after an audience with the emperor of China. At that time, China used to consider itself as the center of the universe And also if you go deeper you will come to realize that we were also recognized  by the Ottoman empire. And we were recognized by many peoples of the world. In the exchanges of communications between the Sultan of Sulu and the King of Great Britain, they addressed each other as brothers and so on and so forth.

          We have this long legacy but because of international conspiracy we have lost our political freedom and our sovereignty. And then we tried to struggle to regain something out of that, and we thought that this peace agreement is the manifestation of our gain. Now it seem, there is an attempt even to destroy this.

          I would like to recall in our previous meeting last Friday, no less than H.E. former Exec. Sec. Gen. Aguirre, who is now the chief adviser to the National Security Council was the one who said that all these must be placed ultimately under the decision of the people. This is very important to us. This is a total deviation from the peace agreement.

We agreed to accept autonomy in exchange for our demand for the restoration of our national freedom and independence and sovereignty through that total and complete decolonization of our homeland. We agreed to this. Now, it seems as if everything is placed in the hands of the GRP peace panel, and even then they are not ready to deliver this genuine autonomy. Now, we want to be very clear about our position here.

          Excellencies, with due respect to the OIC, we would like to inform you that unless we get genuine autonomy for our people there will be no guarantee to our future, to our peopleís future. Already, we have lost our lands. What remains in the hands of our people is very very small fragment. And it is still under encroachment, exposed to daily encroachment. Because the law is controlled by them and the land is controlled by them.

I remember, Bapa Mokhtar Kasumaatmaja,   one time, he was invited by former minister (at the time of Marcos, minister) Jose Abad Santos who was the former Dean of the UP College of Law, he was my  former professor of law. Pa Mokhtar was on his way to Morocco for our OIC Summit and this was in  1981. Pa Mokhtar told us this, when he reached Manila on his way to Morocco, he met the Minister and in the meeting he asked the minister, why did you ask for me? He said this, you know Minister, we want to ask your advice how can (from the viewpoint of Indonesia who knows the problem so well and so close to the people in Mindanao) how can we solve this problem (this problem in Mindanao)? And this was the answer, he said this ďIf you want to solve your problem you must realign your policies on the land of the people. The greatest injustice you have committed against our Muslim brothers in Mindanao is when you declare the land as public land and therefore by stroke of a pain you deprived them of the ownership of the land that they have owned for many many centuries since time immemorial.Ē We donít owned our land because there was no title to our land because that was the system of the sultanate government. We lost our land, and they control  all the machineries of government. We are being deprived of everything, of our political power, of our sovereignty, of our land and even our future now is at stake. Because we are not a part of this government. We are not allowed to participate. We want to get involved. We want to be accepted but they do not accept us. We want to get involved but they donít allow us to participate.

I have been studying the situation in various part of the world. In Indonesia, I used to know that at one time, the most powerful institutions of government, except for the Office of the President, was in the hands of the Christians and yet they just constitute a small percentage. And  many of the generals are from the Christian communities. How Muslims trust them. In Thailand today, the Foreign Minister is a Muslim and even the speaker of the parliament, I understand, is a Muslim. In South Africa, I understand that out of 24 ministers, 5 are Muslims and yet the Muslims constitute barely only 2% of the population. And the Supreme Court Justice, Chief Justice is a Muslim. Thatís how they treat us Muslims in other parts of the world. In Egypt for instance, the representative of Egypt in the United Nations is a Christian. He was the former state minister of foreign affairs. And he was the  Secretary General of  the United Nations for one time. He is a Christian, Dr. Butros Butros Ghali.

How they are being treated. But we here, we fought to maintain the integrity of our sovereignty and our freedom in Mindanao for half a millennium but we donít get anything here. And even with this kind of agreement, already we have been so flexible, we gave literary everything to them, but still they are not ready to implement. They offered me to become governor but only to cause my miserable failure. Because they did not release the funds and they did not give the funds to us. And now we have one year but what is one year. According to Sen. Raul Roco, the governor under the new law can exercise active power only up to February. Why? Because on the nineth months of the whole year, they are contemplating the holding of a referendum.

According to the Philippine law, one and a half months before and one and a half month after the election,  no infrastructures can be done except the on going ones. And then after that referendum that we lost three months there will be another political exercise, and this will be the election. One and half months before that election, we will not be able to do anything at all. So that means, we will lost six months, one and a half months before and one and a half after. In these two exercises it amounts to 3 months. But if it is autonomy, they said it is 3 months before. So weíll lose this.

          Now according to our experiences when we have infrastructure money from the government they give the first releases but for our infrasturcture rehabilitation program, only on the sixth month of the year. So we will gain nothing out of this extension. Therefore the new law is nothing but a recipe to another failure. We are bound to repeat the failure of the last three years because we will be paralyzed. And  besides look at our budget there is no money for infrastructure, no money, no annual allotment. That was the discussion in the congress. I was there.

Even our ditractor, Cong. Lualhati Antonino, was angry with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) people. She said, ďyou have been telling usĒ addressing the DBM representatives ďthat you have increased the budget of the ARMM, now it turned out  you are telling us lies,  you have reduced their budget instead.Ē That was the statement of Rep. Antonino, who is one of the chief oppositors to the peace agreement.

          Now where do we stand now. Can we afford to accept another failure. This is the reason why we have been so deterred in our presentation. Hopefully, the GRP peace panel  will be able to understand. We want the Peace Agreement to succeed. Because we donít want the reccurence of violence and the reccurence of war in Mindanao. Everytime there is violence and there is war, itís our people and their children who get victimized. But how can we succeed if this is all what we get. They always imposed. You have to go to the Senate. How many times have I travelled to the Senate, how many times have I travelled to the Congress. I never expected that I would have to humble myself this much just to get the peace done. I never expected Excellencies. But if did not go, everyone would have been howling and accusing Misuari of arrogance and like that. But this is the situation we are facing here. You have placed us as it were in the lion cage.

          Iím sorry to say this that some of the comments were a little bit off tangent. What I mean is that I think before we went to Ouagadougou, it was the understanding that the government was going to extend to three years (the phase I of the peace Agreement). Even the President himself had told me that he was determined to extend it to another three years, one and a half years for the election and one and a half for the referendum which I have revealed and conveyed to you in our series of meetings. But the problem here is that  as they are saying the commitment of the Executive Office cannot bind the other organs of government. And this is the most dangerous thing here.

We are supposed to be dealing with the GRP peace panel. GRP means Government of the Republic of the Philippines, which is supposed to embrace the entity of the whole state system, namely the Office of the President, the Congress, the Supreme Court and these Judicial organs of government, but now they are fragmenting. What the executive office commits the other organs of government may not necessarily agree to as it is happening now.

          And with respect to this program, these are funded from foreign hand outs. What we are asking for is the commitment of the government from the treasury of the government itself. After all the money that they are going to spend are the money taken from Mindanao. Mindanao used to contribute 60% to the national economy. They got lots of taxes from there. And we thought that they should return back part of those taxes to rehabilitate Mindanao. And besides this is a small thing if you compare for instance to what happens in East Timor. For 350 years of Portuguese colonization in the area, they were only able to produce one high school, one kilometer of road and I donít know how many clinics and like that.

          Under Indonesia, so many quality roads, at least 27 hospitals and numerous number of high schools and colleges. They have even produced the biggest symbol of Christian next only to that in Rio de Janero. And  despite that, still the people are saying, at least part of the population are saying, we want more, more freedom. The material component of all these are important but I would say the political one should not be overlooked and because thatís more important to us than the golds and the diamonds you will give to our people.

          You remember Excellency the statement of President Quezon, ďI would rather be governed by my people like hell than be governed by foreign powers like heaven.Ē That is the statement. And we are asking them to respect that dictum of their own president, President Quezon. Let us respect that at least in a sense.

We are not asking for absolute freedom except for some of our brothers. But even this limited freedom we are asking, they donít want to give to us. And they want everything to be decided by Congress. We were not negotiating with the Congress. We were not negotiating with the Senate. We were negotiating with the government. The government has to deliver. If they cannot deliver, then we should find a way out.

As I have said,  these are our works, the social fund. We went to Paris and the World Bank came. Of course we gave tribute to the initiative of former Pres. Fidel Ramos. The chief adviser of the World Bank brother Alrifai was sent to Manila, from Manila we proceeded to General Santos and we had a pledging session there.  Since there was no formal commitment made, so they decided to hold another meeting in Paris and I was invited along with brother Mayor Mus Sema and few other people from the MNLF.

There in Paris, during that meeting, it was a full pledging session, they asked me speak before them. And after my speech, they called for a recess and they had a caucus. And after about 30 minutes they returned back to tell us, ďMr. Governor, we have decided here to make available 520 million dollars for this economic development of Mindanao.Ē So they publicized this in the world press, because there were media people around. I thought that with this money we could have implemented the socio-economic component of the peace. But none of these money came, not a single cent.

I went to see Mr. Binay at his quarters nearby here in Makati and what he told me was that ďwell Mr. Governor, Iím sorry to tell you that  we have decided to utilized the fund, 230 million would be spent to lay a cable between Mindanao and Leyte in order to attach us to the Leyte grid.Ē Because Leyte is producing huge quantity of energy and they want to sell this to Mindanao. Although Mindanao has plenty of sources of energy. One hundred million dollars, he told me, was appropriated to one province, Christian province. Another hundred million to another Christian province. The other money he said, I donít know, we still have to plan for the use of this.

Since then I have not heard anything about that. Then came another issue 42 billion. They were saying P42 billion peace money. We thought that this was the money that was pledged in Jakarta that they would come up with what they planned as mini-marshall plan of rehabilitation and reconstruction. Then I asked, is this a special money or is this a regular budget of the government.

There was a meeting of the Consultative Assembly of the SPCPD in Pagadian City. NEDA had sent a representative to that meeting, the representative was from  Region 12. And the gentleman was asked to be allowed to explain what this money all about. Then after he issued a few statement, I asked him, Can you please answer my question before you proceed. Is this a new money or is this a regular budget of the government for Mindanao? ďHe said this is a regular money. I said sit down, I donít want to listen to you.Ē We have no business to listen to the regular money of the government. And this money was supposed to be implemented by them.

After the end of the tenure of office of Pres. Ramos, there was a seminar in Zamboanga City, my brother Gen. Abidin was present and,  he spoke before the conference and Gen. Aguirre was present. Then I raised this question in the course of the seminar, ďMr. SecretaryĒ I said, ďtell me about the money, the P42 billion. What happened to this money?Ē Well, he said, when I was the Exec. Sec. well, to the best of my knowledge only 2.9 billion was released. I said, what happened to the rest of the money. He said I donít know now. That was after the end of the term of Pres. Ramos.  What I am concerned about is what they called the mini-marshall plan of reconstruction, no single money was put up for the purposes of implementing this promise. Well, instead, they are asking people outside to give dole outs, to give hand outs.

And I was in the meeting in Malacanang Palace the other day where this phamplets were distributed, itís my people who are implementing to show how competent we are. Everyone in the, the World Bank is happy the way we implement their projects. There is no hunky-punky business whatsoever. But at any rate, I donít think we should make big with this issue.

You know in Mindanao and the islands, there are roughly 20 million population and in the 14 provinces and 10 cities there are more than 10 million, maybe 13-14 or even more and we cannot  take pride in being able to spend 100-200 million for small  projects here and there because it is just a drop in a basket so to speak. I am not saying that we are not grateful but this is not enough to address the problem of the people who are still in the dark. 

          And there is another one here about the livelihood program. At the onset of our administration, government asked us to prepare and there were even these social funds, they told me the other day, Mr. Richard Anson from the World Bank was saying that there are more than 3,000 applicants but they have approved only more than 300 applicants. And we finished already the term, the transition period. We got this money, 10 million from the World Bank and then I went to OPEC, I went to Austria to look for money from the OPEC and they gave us promises. Later on they said, 10 million dollars available. But until now excellency, the money has not been spent.

I was thinking that as soon as the money was made available, they would expedite the utilization of this, even if the World Bank money was still being used. You know the World Bank money available is about P400 million, they spent only  P250 million and the processes were all gone now. And you know what does this mean, P400 million is equivalent to only 10 million dollars and  they spent only about seven million five hundred  for 3 years. The Palestenians, when they signed the peace agreement, they were promised more than 2.5 billion dollars by the World Bank (IMF) and the United States of America. P7.5 million is not even a drop in the basket.

          Well anyway, Iím not trying to be sarcastic but Iím just trying to be frank about it. What we have done is at best. I donít know how to describe it but no one is satisfied. Now they are expecting, as H.E. was saying, we have another year to implement. Well, according to my analysis, this one year is good as useless. Sen. Roco said in a published statement, the governor can govern effectively only until February. There was a headline statement by Roco. Why - because of the mandate of the law. The law says one and half months before and one a half after thatís already three months, no infrastructure money can be implemented.  And then another one and half months before and one and a  half after the elections, three months again, nothing.

And DBM has the habit of releasing infrastructure money only on the sixth month of the year. So you consume out the whole year just for this purpose.

And how can you implement anything here. Even in Indonesia, the earliest they can give, despite the fact that there are not much red tapes, bureaucratic red tapes is I think in April, on the forth month. To produce one kilometer of 2 lanes road, pave roads will require at least including the mobilization,  the bidding and the actual construction and the clearing and so on, the gravelling all of these mobilization will take at least 3 months.

          And you have agreed,  not to give anything to the SPCPD except to pay salaries of the employees yet that was supposedly the main implementing instrumentality of the Peace Agreement. But you decided to emasculate it because you were afraid of the opposition. You told me when I inquired why the SPCPD not given the power, ďlet us not play into the hands of the appropriation ď you said.

You were afraid because they opposition were demanding for the abrogation of the Peace Agreement. And the oppositions are now in power. They are the ones putting up all of these obstacles in Congress. Thatís why no surprise, they were the ones asking for the abolition or the abrogation. So now we are facing these obstacles.

          Iím sorry to say this, I was watching the proceedings in the Senate. One senator from Cebu, who was not fair, he was mocking the OIC. He was mocking the Peace Agreement and he was even asking H.E. Amba. Manuel Yan to resign, ďwhy are you still here. You belong to the old regime, why are you still here?Ē What kind of hostilities towards the Peace Agreement. These are Senators Excellency, these are representatives.

          Now under the circumstance, with  only one year, what can we expect. I hope we will not be misunderstood. Our purpose is to give you some kind of enlightenment about some guidance how we feel. If you want us to succeed, please give us elbow room. But with this, we will be stifled we will be emasculated. I donít know at the end of the day, we will end up facing another terrible indictment from the people and from the world community.

          In fact we have a representative from the SPDA, one of the substitute implementing arm of the Peace Agreement. If you donít mind, let us listen to him. How does he feel being now the administrator, what money have been given to him. And also from the SPCPD, what have they done to justify their existence. If you donít mind I would like to pass this privilege on to former Gov. Tillah. He was appointed by the President as Administrator of SPDA after so much delay.

You see these are two major implementing agencies of the peace but look, both of them are not so happy of the outcome of their activities. And still unhappy about the future they are facing .

          As a mater of fact this is indicative of whatís happening in every part of Mindanao. The other day, I was in University of the Philippines. I went to visit the President of the university who is an old friend. Then I proceeded to a group of Muslim students, most of them were women. Now sooner I took my seat then one of them started telling me, ďMr Chairman, brother Nur, we here the students in this premier university have been keeping tab of development with respect to the Peace Agreement. We are sorry to inform you, we hope we are not correct, according to our information and our analysis, the Peace Agreement has failed, why donít you work out for the total decolonization and independence of Mindanao?Ē

          Now here is another one, the powerful Ulama movement in Mindanao. These people, it is impossible for us not to listen to them because they carry weight. Because they have grassroot supporters. They have people in the Mosques, they have people in the Madrasas and they have people everywhere. They publicized, I think the other day, they are asking the Philippine Congress and the President of the Philippines to abolish ARMM and SPCPD. And they are demanding instead, for implementation of the Tripoli Agreement provision calling for provisional government. They  are not happy with ARMM and SPCPD.

In fact I remember at one time when I was defending my budget in Congress, that was last year, I challenged the Congressmen and the Congresswomen who are grilling us. I said, if you like, better abolish the SPCPD because SPCPD is a make believe institution. It is creating expectation and it is unable to deliver as my brother, the Executive Director is saying. We are not able to deliver because we are not allowed. According to the Executive Order of the President, we are not allowed (the SPCPD) to build even one kilometer of road. Because they said this is just an administrative apparatus, just to oversee. And the line agencies of the government, do not even observe fundamental elementary courtesy of asking us to oversee or  even visit their projects, no, nothing. Itís as good as useless.

          Well, anyway, what Iím saying here, with due apologies to H.E. Ambassador Manuel Yan and with due respect to his presentation, I would like really to say that we in the MNLF, we are not  happy. We are not happy with the last three years of our transitional mechanism. We were not able to meet the expectation of the people and with this one year period given to us, we are not optimistic either whether we can deliver because there is no time and they have  not provided money. No money for the ARMM because they gave us zero annual allotment. They gave P13 billion for Luzon, they gave P9 billion for Visayas and they gave P5 billion for Mindanao, the second largest region, why?

The last 50 years all the money of the country has been spent for the development of Luzon and to a certain extent Visayas. Why? Because we have been taken for a milking cow. They want to use everything in Mindanao to develop Luzon and the Visayas at our expense. Why is it possible, because they control and monopolize the state power.

 We donít have  representative in the Senate, 24 Senators not one Muslim. Out of 240 congressmen and congresswomen, we have only nine Muslims and none is MNLF except maybe one or two.

Thatís why they are suffering from what  they call  ďtyranny of majority.Ē They are always outvoiced, they are always outvoted. We donít have one representative in the Supreme Court. Out of more than 50 members of the Court of Appeals, we have only one or two. In all the financial institutions of government, we have nothing. In the diplomatic community, even to such country like Saudi Arabia, instead of sending a Muslim, they sent a Christian. Why like this. They are marginalizing us.

How can you expect us to be happy and to be associated with this republic. As a matter of fact, in the last budgetary hearing some weeks ago in the Congress where I was present. You see, one the Muslim congressmen was saying this, the way you do, you are treating the ARMM as if it is not a member or a part of the Republic of the Philippines. That is Cong. Datumanong in the Committee deliberation where I was present. As if you are treating ARMM not a part of the Republic of the Philippines. He was saying loudly addressing the Committee hearing. Why, because they did not give money. They were saying they gave money but it turned out instead, they had reduced our funds. What they are counting are funding from outside. According to the rules they should not be counted in the budget because the budget are supposed to be only from the taxes realized by the government.

          So anyway the problem here is that, we want very much to be accepted as part of this country. And we want to be involved not to be marginalized. But on either cases we are not optimistic. We are always discriminated. We are always neglected. We are always abandon and we donít have any future at all in this country. Iím sorry to say this. 

Well, I would just like to make response to the challenge to produce documents. I can not produce documents but I can cite incidence. If you remember on 19th of March during our caucus in Manila Hotel, no less than Exec. Sec. Zamora in the presence of Mr. Puno and your Excellencyís presence and Gen. Aguirreís presence, everyoneís presence, they were telling us in clear language, three years extension. If you remember on March 19 in Manila Hotel?

          And also, in the same date H.E. Ambassador Yan had proposed and recommended the empowering of the SPCPD and so on. But anyway, ours is only to remind them. If they want to run away from their commitment and their pledges, well we can not do anything about it. We are very sorry to say that.

          But I want the OIC to understand that we never run away from our commitment. I want the world to make judgement whether we have been faithful to our commitment to the Peace Agreement. We have been faithful. And no one can dispute that.

          We cannot accept R.A. 8753 as the basis for the extension of the SPCPD. If you remember they were supposed to pass a new Organic Act in October last year but they failed. So we can not be blamed for their failure. They failed also to come up with the economic and financial commitment the mini-marshall plan of reconstruction and development.

          And even if they give us mandatory budget they donít release except in trickles. We had for the information of H.E. Amba. Kiam, the first time they gave us infrastructure money was in 1998, last year. And infrastructure money was supposed to be P1.5 billion. But before we knew it they took away half billion arbitrarily. And then they informed us that they reserved 25% out of the 1 billion, so we were left only with P750 million. This is for the 4 provinces. Later on they started releasing. In 1998 they made the first release only after October. Then we got new releases only in August this year, a period of six months for our construction of roads.

          How can we expect to deliver something beneficial and visible to the eyes of our people .  Iím not accusing the President nor Amba Yan or what. Maybe there are some invisible minds or invisible hands trying to cause our failure so that we will lose the respect of our people. And in that process, they thought that this could cause the dissolution of the MNLF. And therefore, this would deprive the people their legitimate leadership. Iím just speculating because that is the consequence of our failure.

          Now, people are asking us intead, the Ulama, the very powerful group who can sway millions to whatever direction they want, and the youths from the premier University of the Philippines. And I tell you people are not quite happy. Thatís why if I talk the way I do it is because I would like to open the eyes of the Philippine government through the GRP panel so that hopefully they can take initiative to make some rectification from here and there so that the dream would not become irreversible. We have to reverse the process because we want to protect the Peace Agreement. But of course not at all cost because we want peace which is honorable and dignified peace. Without that, even if Misuari will agree, the people, Iím sure will not.

          So this is my final comment and I leave the rest to the wisdom of the OIC and our friends from the GRP peace panel.

Thank you Excellency for the amplifications you have made. It is clear now to us the impression you have about the peace process. But we should not forget the issue even this Organic Act we have now in the Senate.

 Donít forget the impurities, they included something that are not supposed to be there, the confiscation of our properties, the limitation imposed on us and so on and so forth.

          I think all points indicate that we are now moving towards - - - I donít know how to call it but I think all of these points are now indicating that the peace process is moving towards a very very sorry end.

          With all those efforts that the OIC have made, with all those supports that we received from all over the world, to the extent even the UNESCO have demonstrated its support by giving us that peace prize with President Ramos in Senegal. H.E. the President of Senegal  was presiding over the ceremony. It was attended by many dignitaries from various parts of the world. They have recognized the importance of this but I think some of our people are taking it lightly. They took it for granted and the reason is they have placed this in the hands of Congress and Senate which are basically controlled by oppositions to the Peace Agreement and the peace talks from the very beginning before the previous administration.

          Now this is the basic problem, the fundamental problem that we are facing. Because these people are very very influential for the information of the H.E. There are four outstanding oppositions here who are openly opposing. First, we have the Lobregats, mother and son, these people want to confiscate our property in Zamboanga City and even to drive us out from there. A certain Gen. Gaurano, former head of the PNP in Zamboanga, for your information, one time came to see me to tell me voluntarily. He said, many times this lady had told me to evict the Muslims from the city. This is our city. We fought for it for centuries. And this lady, she came from the Visayas. She usurped more than one thousand hectares of land in the city through the manipulation of the family. Now they want to get rid of us from that. And in fact when this law was discussed some congressmen were saying ďthis is tantamount to ethnic cleansingĒ.

The son took over the position of the mother as congressman because the mother was a congresswoman before and then she finished her term and became   mayor, the son became the congressman from this. And he is a member of a powerful group composed of sons and daughters of former congressmen and congresswomen. The son is a member.

Another, we have the deputy speaker, Speaker Fuentes, she is the number 2 in the hierarchy of the Phil. House of the Representative. And sheís from Mindanao and sheís opposed to this. And we have another one, Cong. Antonino, she is the head of the League of Congressmen and Congresswomen from Mindanao, 49 of them. Thatís why they can move mountains there inside the Hall of Congress. And these were the people who were opposed against the peace process and the peace agreement during the time of Marcos. And they are now in power being members and powerful members of the ruling party.

          So we must reckon with this reality, Excellencies. Thatís why we are facing so much problem. And there are many other factors here to consider but in fine, I think the GRP panel, if they really want to join hands with us in protecting the Peace Agreement and the peace that we have achieved they must move heaven and earth, to convince their leaders, from the President down to those key members of Congress and Senate.

          According to the former Speaker De Venecia during a dinner tendered on behalf of our brother Amba. Azarouq, he said, if I were in the side of the government, I would not release this law (organic law) unless and until Iím able to get the concurrence of the Speaker, the President of the Senate and of the chairman of the MNLF. Once they conclude to this, then and only then. What is the used of passing a law which is not acceptable to the MNLF. Unless you are willing to violate our agreement  that there shall  no more imposition. If you impose your will on us, donít expect our people to accept that, just like that. We are not going to accept any imposition whatsoever. So this is the thing.

          Now I would like to conclude my statement again,  but I donít like to be misunderstood. As I said as I took my office as governor of ARMM and chairman of the SPCPD, I said and I want to say it again that it the wish of the people of Mindanao, of the MNLF and of all of us that there shall be no more reccurence of bloodletting and bloodbath. Let alone of war in Mindanao. Because everytime there is war, itís our people, our children, our women and our old folks that were caught in the crossfire.  Number one, there never was a war in Mindanao imposed by people from the outside including the Phil. Government that did not affect our own citizens. Thatís why we hate war. Number two, we have to say this, we would like to reiterate our position which we have submitted to Presidentís Estradaís office and to this honorable body that in the event, this peace process will end up in a failure to produce a comprehensive and viable autonomy or geniune autonomy then of course naturally this will bring about to the natural abrogation, to the logical abrogation of the Peace Agreement.

But even in that circumstance, weíd like to appeal that we entered into gentlemanís agreement, better still we bind ourselves to continue to respect and honor the peace. We work so hard to restore this peace. We would like the government to take any pretext to start a new war, a war of extermination in our homeland.

Because it is now become a habit in various parts of the world everytime there is war the Armed Forces always find pretext to engage in some excesses. In Bosnia,  Hesogovina, in Kosovo, in Chechnya, in Pakistan, in Kashmir in all those places, Muslims are always been at the receiving end. We donít want to become at the receiving end again. We have suffered too much. And we appeal to the OIC to help us protect this peace and we are at this point in time, we want to portray ourselves as the chief advocate now and chief defender and protector and the champion of peace. Because peace is the essence of our religion. And genuine peace is the ultimate objective of our Jihad Fi Sabilillah.

          Well, I would just like to point out that I think I donít  know how they look at the SPCPD to show that the SPCPD is not that important. Because until now the Consultative Assembly has not been renewed. I submitted the recommendation December last year. And I took effort to remind them about this. And I think 2 days ago they asked me again to submit. Last year I submitted, and then I went on to submit and submit and remind and remind them. And now the other day I received a message from H.E. asking me to submit. And dutifully I asked my wife to look for a copy and then I signed it again and submitted it. But thatís already at the end of the Peace Agreement, already finished the Consultative Assembly and has done nothing for years. Since the advent of this administration the CA has not met even once. So you can see how they treat the Peace Agreement and all these things.

          Mr. Ambassador, I was the one who prepared all of these and I checked and checked and in fact at one time my wife told me, we have exceeded the number. The new vice chairman, Mayor Edward Hagedorn of Puerto Princesa, Palawan has been asking me. He said ďwhatís the use of me having been appointed as vice when we have not met even once.Ē I am a little bit embarrassed.

Anyway, thatís the situation we have. I think this is October 1 and this is already the end of our term and that is how we have been fearing until now, so far. Iím sorry, - - - I really hate to abuse your generosity Mr. Chairman, Thank you.

          Well, I have said my last word so many times. Again and again, I have to violate my pledges to you Mr. Chairman because I have to respond to the on going development here. First of all I would like to thank H.E. for the intervention, Ambassador Kiam and for his word of caution that even he, for his first time to join us here, he was already talking in terms of possible risks of the Peace Agreement.

We should entertain the illusion about the fate of the Peace Agreement. The Peace Agreement is on trial. I am telling you seriously. Some people may not feel it but we in the MNLF, particularly myself, I have gone through over 3 decades in our efforts to tame the genie of war in Mindanao. And we have succeeded.

But then, the genie of war is trying to get lose as it were. If we are not careful, I am afraid before we know it, there will be another crisis in Mindanao. That is very very real. I am not joking and this crisis can come with or without me because I am not the only one who is in control of the situation there. Donít forget Excellencies, in difference to the presence of our brother Amba. Kiam that in Mindanao only MNLF is still clinging to that illusion that autonomy is still viable as an honorable solution to the problem in Mindanao, only MNLF. Even the MNLF, it is already fragmented in terms of our commitment to the autonomy.  I can boast, modesty aside, that itís me who is the only one now whoís championing this cause.

Many in our leadership are already trying to get lose out of this. So Iím afraid unless weíre able to enter into an acceptable and honorable compromise to save and rescue the peace agreement, Iím afraid the future may not be under control. And finally, I hope this is my last and final say.  hope the OIC Ministerial Committee will give all seriousness to this work. And also I would like to appeal to H.E. Amba. Manuel Yan and Usec. Hernandez and Usec. Nabil Tan and their colleagues I would like to appeal to them if possible to give us written reply. We are going to give you also written reply to your proposal that you have submitted to us. This is my final words. Iím sorry for taking the microphone so many times. Iím sure, Iím boring already but I hope you understand. I donít want anyone to be misled. I want to be always understood clearly. So when anything happens, you will not say that Misuari has misled us. 

          Once again, allow me to violate my pledge, Excellencies, you see I have been in this peace process for so long. I was the head of our peace team in Jeddah  in January 1975. Since then, except for the meeting here (that aborted meeting in Manila) during the time of Marcos, I have always headed my panel. Because I always want to give honor to the OIC and to our counterpart. That is to say, we always want to send very high level delegation. By high level we mean is that, capable of deciding. As we could see now, this is one sided. Iím sorry to say this, from my observation, the GRP peace panel is not in that position to make any decision at all. They have to carry only messages from Congress and from the Senate. And at best from the Office of the President. So this is very disadvantageous to us. So next time around, we hope that like in Jakarta and in other places that they would take care to bring some representatives from the Senate and the Congress. And you should ask us to send high level delegation capable of making decision on the spot. Thank you .  

 

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