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Speech Delivered By The MNLF Chairman, H.E. Prof. Nur P. Misuari, Before The Representatives Of Malacanang In A Fringe Meeting During The 4th Bangsamoro Peopleís National Congress Held In Cabatangan Complex, Zamboanga City, May 7, 2001

Bismillah Hirrahman Nirrahim.

Our distinguished guests, the Presidential Adviser, Jess Dureza, my brother, the distinguished Ambassador Sanchez Ali, my distinguished brothers in the MNLF leadership, let me greet you with the noble greeting of peace, Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Taala  Wabarakatuhu. Peace be on you and blessing of the Almighty Allah.

This meeting was called by us at the spar of the moment in response to the invitation of H.E. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for me to visit her in Malacanang. But fortunately, this kind hearted gentleman from Davao, who is most dynamic adviser of the President, former Congressman Jess Dureza decided to come and see us first.

I think all of you understand why suddenly he has to make this visit. This is the second time around in two days time. Last night he was with us and he promised to come today and he has fulfilled his promise.  And he told me that he is going to come back here in the near future. He will be involved in shuttle diplomacy of sort.

Well anyway, I am also very grateful, grateful to our distinguished Vice President Teofisto Guingona, who is a good friend of mine, for sending this distinguished delegation here. As this distinguished Ambassador was telling us, he was sent by the Vice President to look into the projects we are undertaking in the island of Jolo. Because some doubts have been sawn to the effects that all these projects are ghost projects. In fact, I even went to extent of inviting his delegation to see our hotel in Tajung Aru in Sulu. Itís a very impressive building. I told him that one time I brought the former secretary of the DILG, Mr. Puno to that place just to you know convince him that all of these fabricated lies are not true. And in the visitation, I brought them to the Kan-Naway Rock Causeway. I told him that there is no money from the government except for the materials and that is worth billion.

I can not imagine how anyone in the whole Mindanao and in the Philippines can duplicate this project. I still have to see one project of its kind to be done in any part of Mindanao and the Philippines. Because this project is a project of love, love for our people. So we initiated through our own efforts despite the fact that there is no special funding from the government. And you also mentioned about the Barangay Sea Port we are constructing. Itís already about 200 meters out into the sea. Two big trucks or vehicles can pass through at the same. This is only one part, the other part is about 230 meter away the space between the 2 projects. This is 2-in-1 because they will be link up at the outer part of coastal area. And we will ensure that this can accommodate even not only kumpits bringing commodities form Indonesia, Malaysia and other places but even small trading boats or commercial boats. Because the port will go as deep as ten meters.

Well anyway, our effort in making this port is in order to revive the economy, to revive the economy of that area. This maybe complimented with the construction of suitable kind of market places so that people from the sea bringing their catch and the people from the mountains bringing their harvest can meet` at the market places and trade commodities as in the olden days.

So this is the idea, we want to transform this community into a dynamic economic zone, Insha Allah. I heard from my father-in-law that already 3 big kumpits loaded with rice from Malaysia asked permission from him to be allowed to land at that port. He said, no, we can not allow you as yet. We have to finish the port first.

Our brother, the economist, Dr. Ather, was impressed by the potentials of our circumferential road project. We went through kilometer after kilometer. I think we traveled at least 20 kilometers of wide road. And we could have proceeded to the other side because already we have cleared at least hundred ten kilometers. Since the time of Apo Adan and Eve there never was that kind of facility or infrastructure. Because people could not think of it or rather people could not find resources. They didnít have enough initiative where to procure the resources for the construction of this. Alhamdulillah, we have this infrastructure and with this infrastructure, I am very, very certain, Insha Allah, the island of Jolo will eventually become again the center of trading in our part of the region of Southeast Asia.

In the 19th century, according to the British publishers and historians,  Sulu was the center of trading in 18th and 19th century, and maybe much earlier. In fact according to historians as early as 9th century, Arabs were already frequenting our island bringing all sorts of commodities from their countries. And I envisage the day when Sulu will become the center of trading again, Insha Allah. In fact, one day I am thinking of constructing probably the biggest and the longest Container Sea port not only in the Philippines but the entire region of Southeast Asia.

When I mentioned this to my friends they just laughed me off. But as my brother was saying ďhe who laughs last laughs bestĒ. I am determined, Insha Allah, to improve the quality of life of our people. Anyone who goes to these projects will easily understand what is it that is throbbing in my heart. If indeed, as my detractors are saying, that I want to go to war, in the first place why did I agreed to end the war, to interrupt the momentum of the war. Itís crazy on my part. And if you go to this circumferential road as I told Gen. Sua and other generals who came to visit us, I told them, if indeed Misuari has intention of waging war against the government, why should I make this circumferential road to give facilities for you tanks and your heavy equipment to move around and pursue us. It just runs counter to a common sense.

Modesty aside, I am a strategist, a tactician, a strategist in my own right. I have trained probably in the best guerilla warfare school in - - I would not say in the world but at least in the Southeast Asia. Even the Green Beret had to learn from the same school where I passed through. So it runs counter to this speculation. Thatís why I was so anxious to see that the President would come to the island. Unfortunately, I think some people had prevailed upon her not to push through with her schedule.

At any rate, I was made to understand that the President had given up the idea of coming to see us and probably after elections.

Well anyway, the important thing is for us to listen to our dear friend, a son of Mindanao came here at the behest of the President to enlighten us on the policy of the government vis-ŗ-vis the Peace Agreement, vis-ŗ-vis the Tripartite meeting, vis-ŗ-vis our brothers who have been misled by some people who are trying to utilize them in the pursuit of their hidden agenda in Mindanao and against us.

By this time, after his visit Iím sure the President should be able to learn more about the duplicity of some people in her cabinet. I have very high esteem for the President.  I have always said that I support her, we support her and that we will continue to support her unless and until she tells us in so many words that she does not like our support.

And I have also express my views time and again that after signing the Peace Agreement, it is our desire that people will portray us as the protector and the defender and the champion of peace in this part of the world. Because we donít like our people to get embroiled, to be sandwiched every time there is war. We donít like our children and our women and our old folks and our people as a whole to be victims of the savagery of war, of the cruelty of war. My views of war are well known. I look at war as a manifestation of a primitive society that uses war as an instrument of policy to resolve outstanding social or political problem.

This postulate is based on the realization of that we are Muslims and that we belong to the religion of Islam. Allah by His Mercy and compassionate has given us this religion, the youngest of all worldís religion. And Islam, just like the Jewish word shalom, stands for peace. You can not be a true Muslim unless you are a man of peace. To be war-like is the opposite of being a Muslim. However, God by His wisdom, also tells us that we have every right to invoke the fundamental law of self-defense. This is a universal law which is recognize everywhere in the world because it part of the natural law of God. We donít like war, I have said time and again. We donít like bloodshed. I even admonished our brothers in the conduct of war. Every time I warned them to live by the precept of the Prophets of Islam and of the companions of the Holy Prophets.

I told my brothers that in the conduct of war donít kill women, donít kill children, donít kill old folks, donít kill innocent human beings, donít destroy dwelling places, Churches, Mosques. Donít cut down trees unless it is extremely necessary for your survival and donít destroy animals. You have no right to do that because Allah created this life and only Allah can take back that life. We tried to always conduct ourselves in the tradition of civilized Islamic warfare. And we maintained this posture throughout our war for the last 2 or 3 decades.

And therefore, I would like to ask that people would understand us in this proper perspective or proper context. With respect to our brothers who have been misled by some elements in the government it is our wish that the President will take a look at this. Because if they will be allowed to continue with their mischief-making activities, Iím afraid they will add more and more burden to the woes of the government.

I would like to say this so that weíll not be misunderstood. As Eid Kabalu was saying (in the media), the proclamation of the Bangsamoro Republic, he said, is a very potent force. And in one statement, he said, unity between the 2 brotherly organizations are no longer far fetched because we are now in a common objective or platform should the people finally decide to push through their dream of making Mindanao and islands a sovereign independent state.

 But I was telling our dear brother here, the Presidential Adviser, that the idea of Bangsamoro Republik was proposed by a young man who stood right in this podium. And it was shared by the members who attended the last congress. But I asked them in the same podium, I think the brothers who were present will remember, I said, please defer your decision. You have to wait for an auspicious occasion for that. And I mentioned the Tripartite Meeting. And besides, donít forget here in the MNLF leadership, we have the state congresses, we have the national congress and lately we even have this regional congress. Then all decisions are suppose to go through the enlarged Central Committee before they will finally reach the central committee itself. Once the Central Committee decides, then it will be forwarded to the Chairman and the chairman will put the stamp of approval to it. Then and only then that the decision can be implemented. So far that proposal is still as it were in a state of suspended animation because no final approval has been made. No schedule of formal proclamation has been made likewise.

I would like to remind our distinguished guests, as regards my appointment as President, it is not the first time. Itís not new either. I was proclaimed President of Mindanao by Datu Dima during the state congress in Cotabato. I was also appointed or chosen as President of Mindanao by state congresses of the New Utara State Revolutionary Committee in Matanog, the Iranon territory. Likewise the state congress of the Maranaw State Revolutionary Committees, the Lupah Sug and so on and so forth. But even with this appointment, nothing has changed.

Our focus is still on how we could convince the national government to comply with their binding international commitment to install and deliver genuine political autonomy to the MNLF and our people. That is the most important thing up to this present moment.            

            However, to be frank about it, if and when the Tripartite Meeting that we envisage to hold or to be held in the foreseeable future will fall through then we can go back to the people as usual and ask for a new mandate. If they say the Bangsamoro Republik has been proposed, just proclaim it then proclaim it we must. Because we have to follow the sovereign will of the people.

             So up to this present moment, I think there is no reason to make fuss about this Bangsamoro Republik after all it is still in a suspended animation as it were. I hope this clarifies the doubts of our friend, our dear brother the distinguished adviser of the president.

Wabilllahi Taufiq Walhidaya. Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Taala Wabarakatuhu.


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Copyright 2001 b

Copyright 2001 by MNLF, Cotabato City