- Posted October 18, 2012 by
Moro Rebel Chieftain: 'I come In Peace'
1. MILF Chairman Al-Hajji Murad Ebrahim delivers his speech in Malacanang Palace, Oct. 15, after signing of Framework Agreement.
2. Mohagher Iqbal, chief MILF negotiator, in his hotel room on the evening of the signing of the Framework Agreement.
3. Movie Actor Epi Quizon (in coat), one of the guests at the historic event for peace in Mindanao.
4. Iligan City Rep. Varf Belmonte and Iligan City Mayor Lawrence Cruz at the signing rites.
5. Journalists Jim Gomez of The Associated Press and Reuters' Manny Mogato.
6. Journalists Manny Mogato of Reuters and Edd K. Usman of Manila Bulletin flash the peace sign.
(Note: All photographs snapped by invictus1819.)
MILF's Ebrahim: 'I come In Peace'
Extend Hands Of Amity To President, Filipinos
Admitting it was his first time in Malacañang, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al-Hajji Murad Ebrahim said Monday he came in peace, extended hands of amity, and appealed for Bangsamoro unity.
He came in peace alright, signing the Framework Agreement (FA) forged out of the blood, sweet, and tears of Filipinos, Moros and non-Moros alike, rebels, soldiers, and non-combatants, but mostly Moros.
After the signing, he delivered a four-page speech, saying Monday's event was a celebration of "a victory for the Bangsamoro people and the Filipino nation" which the international community and the Muslim world shared.
He started at 2 p.m. and concluded his piece at about 2:17 p.m., earning some applause from the audience that exceeded the venue's 500 capacity.
Ebrahim described the just signed FA as "the most important in this chapter of our history; a landmark document that restores to our people their Bangsamoro identity and their homeland; their right to govern themselves; and the power to forge their destiny and future with their own hands."
The MILF leader, who replaced founder Ustadhz Salamat Hashim in 2003 after his demise, stressed it is a "victory not by war but by that collective desire tempered by the inner nobility of human nature to restore justice and peace to a troubled land."
Ebrahim said the FA, achieved on Oct. 6 in the latest exploratory talks in Malaysia, ended the Bangsamoro's and the Philippine nation's "adversarial relationship."
He recalled the common struggle in the past of the Bangsamoro people and the Aquinos against the dictatorship of the then President Ferdinand Marcos.
"And what makes this more significant and quite touching on our part is that this is happening under the administration of President Noynoy Aquino, whose martyred father, Senator Ninoy Aquino, and mother, the late President Cory Aquino, fought on the same side of the fence with us against the dictatorship that devastated our homeland and snuffed the lives of thousands of our people."
The MILF chieftain further explained the FA's importance to the Bangsamoro, the Islamized people of Mindanao.
"Today, we extend the hands of friendship and partnership to the President and the Filipino people as we jointly embark on the historic journey to rebuild our homeland, institute justice, end occupation and the reign of violence, and restore normalcy to the lives of the masses of our people in Mindanao and Sulu," Ebrahim said.
"We pray," he said that with the FA, there would no more refugee camps stuffed with old folks, women and children who suffer in squalor and misery, and no more repeated "wholesale violation of human rights that comes with oppression."
Ebrahim confessed it was his first time to be in Malacañang, saying not even his "wildest dream" that he would see the Palace interior, noting it once was the residence of the Spanish and American governors-general and presently Philippine presidents.
He said he did not travel to be in Malacañang as a tourist, or a politician seeking favors from the President.
Ebrahim said he was at the Palace as "the humble Chairman" of the MILF.
"It is in this context that I come in peace and to forge a partnership of peace on the basis of the Framework Agreement between the MILF and the Philippine Government under the leadership of President Benigno S. Aquino III," he said.
He then switched to the origins of what he called the "Bangsamoro Question," of lost Moro sultanates, the loss of the Moros' sovereignty as a nation, then "captivity and elimination of the Bangsamoro identity that also made their ancestral homeland small parcels of "gerrymandered territories."
Ebrahim said this "led to the marginalization of our people within a larger dominant Philippine society that barely took cognizance, if at all, of our forebears' unbroken struggle for freedom even before the Philippine Republic saw the light of day in 1898 and in 1946."
He dedicated the FA to Hashim, the late MILF Vice Chairman Aleem Abdulaziz Mimbantas, Ustadhz Abukhalil Yahya, Ustadhz Zainon Zaman, etc., and those "martyred, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) or MILF.
"Let me also have this opportunity to call on, and appeal to, our MNLF brethren to support the Framework Agreement, and take this historic journey with us to rebuild our Bangsamoro Homeland on the gains given to us by this Agreement. This is not the time for recriminations," said Ebrahim.
Instead, he said, it is the time for the Bangsamoro people to unite, think and act as one, adding all the Moros' strengths needed "to face the daunting task of home rule."
Ebrahim said the negotiations for the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the MNLF and the government, while aimed at addressing the historical and current grievances of the Bangsamoro people, "came short of going further into the root cause of the Moro Question."
Ebrahim then cited the legacy of Hashim, who led a split from the MNLF in the late 1970's for maintaining that "negotiated political settlement is the most civilized and practical way to solve the Moro problem."
He said the MILF under him stayed faithful to Hashim's policy. "We, in the MILF Central Committee, did not waver and vacillate in pursuing it to the end despite the devastating three all-out wars in 2000, 2003 and 2008 waged by previous Philippine regimes on the MILF," said Ebrahim.
Amid tremendous pressures from other Moro sectors and provocations by "hostile forces" the cause of the Bangsamoro to abandon the peaceful negotiation in favor of war, he said the MILF continued Hashim's legacy.
"Today, it humbles me to say before you that we have stayed the course. Our perseverance has prevailed over those whose obsession is to perpetuate war and conflict in Mindanao and Sulu for self-aggrandizement," he said.
Ebrahim thanked the Aquino, Malaysian Prime Minister Dató Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, the facilitators and its Secretariat, the members of the International Contact Group (ICG), and the International Monitoring Team (IMT), and others who "believed in the justness" of the cause of the Bangsamoro. #