Philippines communist rebels caution Muslims on peace agreement
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Philippines communist rebels caution Muslims on peace agreement

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Communist guerrillas in Mindanao today said Moro resistance will not end with the conclusion of the GRP-MILF peace negotiations.

Jorge Madlos, spokesman of the National Democratic Front in Mindanao, urged Moro revolutionary forces “not to lose sight on the fundamental causes of the problems of the Moro people.”

Madlos, a.k.a Ka Oris, said “no significant change is forthcoming” even if the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) is signed in a couple of months.

“Without revolutionary change, their aspirations for a real autonomy remain elusive, including the problem of chauvinism against the Moro people,” Madlos added.

He likewise warned big business will take advantage of the peace agreement.

“The natural wealth of their ancestral lands and waters, such as the Liguasan Marsh, including their vast plains, will surely be target for plunder both by the domestic and multinational corporations,” the NDF-Mindanao spokesman said.

He said the CAB will not address these issues and will “instead settle on the pacifist power and palliative economic sharing that shall only benefit a few traditional elite Moro.”

Madlos did not make direct reference to the MILF leadership, including the chairman of the largest Moro rebel group Ibrahim ‘Al Haj’ Murad.

Madlos and Murad forged a tactical and political alliance in the late 1990s offering each other political support, training and sanctuary in common areas where they operate.  Reports said Madlos personally met with Murad in Camp Abubakar.

But in an interview in November, MILF vice chairman for information and chief peace negotiator Mohaqer Iqbal already fended off criticism that will come from their ‘political ally.’

“There is a difference between the struggle of the NDF and the MILF.  The NDF want to replace the government.  They want to overthrow the government.  They want to destroy the system,” Iqbal said.

The MILF official said they are seeking genuine autonomy and self-governance after they dropped their bid to establish an Islamic state.

“We don’t want to overthrow the government. We do not even think of replacing the system.  What we want is certain portion of Mindanao where we can exercise self-governance and a system of governance,” Iqbal further explained.

But Madlos sees the peace deal as a further tempering of experience of Moro resistance fighters.

“This will only lead to the galvanization of all Moro armed resistance outside of the MILF into one potent force that shall continue the Moro struggle for genuine self-determination and will wedge a substantial AFP force into fierce combat,” he said.

The communist spokesman warned that fighting will continue is expected to escalate and will only worsen “because conditions remain unchanged”.

On Tuesday, the military reported fierce combat between government forces and members of the breakaway MILF faction – the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) – in Datu Piang, Maguindanao.

The BIFF is headed by Ameril Umra Kato, one of the founders of the MILF. 

Kato and another MILF commander Abdulrhaman Macapaar (center) alias ‘Kumander Bravo launched simultaneous attacks in Maguindanao and Lanao provinces respectively after the 2008 botched signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain.

Kato, who is believed to have suffered a stroke, has vowed to continue with their secessionist aspiration.