Another article I wrote that is worth reading is titled About the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)- Understanding the MNLF. It contains the MNLF cause of struggle, ideology, vision, doctrine, history, freedom fighters, rules of engagement, treaties, leadership, separatists, foreign policy, affiliation, symbols of the flag, projects, and membership. It is at http://bangsamoromnlf.blogspot.com/2011/01/about-bangsamoro-mnlf.html
- John Odonnell R. Petalcorin, December 2010.
What is MNLF?
The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is a political organization whose original aim was to REGAIN the independence of the Bangsamoro People of Mindanao from the historically undue sovereignty of the GRP over Mindanao. After a series of talks with the GRP and the OIC, the MNLF dropped its struggle for independence and flexibly evolved its mission for a GENUINE AUTONOMY of Mindanao.
MNLF is composed of Moslems, Christians, and Lumads.
What is BANGSAMORO?
Bangsamoro are people born in the mainland Mindanao, Sulu, and Palawan (MINSUPALA).
Mindanao has an area of 94,630 square kilometers, and is the eighth most populous island in the world. The island of Mindanao is larger than 125 countries worldwide, including the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Czech Republic, Hungary, Taiwan and Ireland.
Mindanao Island is surrounded by seas: the Sulu Sea to the west, the Philippine Sea to the east, and the Celebes Sea to the south.
The island is mountainous, and is home to Mount Apo, the highest mountain in the country where the rare Monkey-eating Eagle lives. Of all the islands close to the Philippines, Mindanao and Borneo shows the greatest biodiversity and tropical physiologic formation. Deep and dark forests, high rugged faulted mountains, almost isolated volcanic peaks, high rolling plateaus, and broad level swampy plains are found in Mindanao.
What is ARMM?
The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Region was first created by the Corazon Aquino Administration on August 1, 1989 through Republic Act No. 6734 otherwise known as the Organic Act in pursuance with a constitutional mandate to provide for an autonomous area in Muslim Mindanao.
During that time, a plebiscite was held in the provinces of Basilan, Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Palawan, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur; and in the cities of Cotabato, Dapitan, Dipolog, General Santos, Koronadal, Iligan, Marawi, Pagadian, Puerto Princesa and Zamboanga to determine if the residents would want to be part of the ARMM.
Of the areas where the plebiscites were held only Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi voted favorably for inclusion in the new autonomous region. The ARMM was officially inaugurated on November 6, 1990 in Cotabato City, which was designated as its provisional capital.
In 2001, RA 9054 lapsed into law without the signature of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. RA 9054 provided legislation for the expansion of the ARMM to include the areas which initially rejected inclusion and the provinces which were carved from them, however only Marawi City and Basilan with the exception of Isabela City opted to be integrated in the region.
In 2006, a new province was carved out of Maguindanao: Shariff Kabunsuan, the 6th province of ARMM, joining Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan. In July 2008, however, Sema v. COMELEC voided the creation of Shariff Kabunsuan. The Supreme Court of the Philippines declared unconstitutional a section in RA 9054 which granted the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces and cities. The Comelec ruled that the Supreme Court’s ruling has no effect on the ARMM elections as the decision is not yet final.
ARMM is an Autonomous Region of the Philippines that is now composed of Basilan (except Isabela City), Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, and the Islamic City of Marawi.
This is Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chairman of the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). This photo was in 2008 during the President Arroyo administration. The MILF is fighting for an independent Islamic State of Mindanao, and it attracts many MNLF members who are getting tired and impatient on the prositive results of the Peace Process by which Nur Misuari is holding on. MILF rebels are mostly based in Buliok Complex, Maguindanao province in Central Mindanao.
In this photo, we have President Arroyo having a boodle-fight (eat altogether) with Maguindanao politician Andal Ampatuan, who later on became the primary suspect of the Maguindanao Massacre of 2009 that killed over 50 unarmed women and journalists.
Although the Nur Misuari of MNLF is the ruling party of the areas of ARMM, it has remained "less enthusiastic" in cooperating with the Arroyo Administration in the ARMM governance. The reason being is the Arroyo Administration manipulated the funds of the ARMM by intalling politicians who have sour relationship with Nur Misuari particularly members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF is a Muslim conservative and religious extremist break-away group of the MNLF).
The ARMM funds were clearly corrupted during the Administration of President Arroyo and they even spread a malicious and untruthful propaganda that Nur Misuari pocketted the monies. I have to make a clear statement here that Nur Misuari did not handle any disbursement of ARMM monies nor was he a participant in the corruption of the ARMM fund during the Arroyo Administration.
In fact, during the Arroyo Administration, Nur Misuari was a victim of political persecution because there was an instance where he was politically arrested along with the many left-leaning politicians who spoke against the slogan of "Strong Republic" of President Arroyo. The Police during Arroyo regime raided the house of Nur Misuari, planted incriminating evidences, arrested him over illegal possession of prohibitted drugs, and maltreated him like any other ordinary criminal.
What are the misperceptions about the MNLF? Is MNLF a solid Moslem organization who wants to drive away Christians from Mindanao?
The MNLF is widely misunderstood as an organization that is monopolized by Moslems because it starts with the name "Moro". There is no truth to this misperception. I can personally attest that the top to bottom membership ranks of the MNLF are composed of Muslims, Christians, and Lumads, and that MNLF is against any form of religious discrimination. I am a Christian an a high-rank officer of the MNLF.
The propaganda of the GRP that says the Moslems in Mindanao wants to drive out the Christians is also a big big big big lie. The Bangsamoro Government will not drive away any religion out of Mindanao. (Photo shows Lumads having a meeting)
The truth is, Mindanao known of its nickname "Land of Promise", and the Bangsamoro Government will use economic development to make Mindanao a "Land of Fulfillment". This progress will be done systematically with the Bangsamoro Government creating several well-planned New Bangsamoro Townships that will locate the ideal Mindanao society that is sustainable, democratic, reliable, secured, fair, equitable, responsive to the needs of its people, and economically progressive. Most of these progressive new townships will be located in the poorest rural baranggays in Bangsamoro land.
Another misperception and lie that had caused the fear of many is that the Moslems and MNLF will dominate the Bangsamoro Government and impose itself as "rulers" and "dictators" over the people of Mindanao which will oppress democracy. There is definitely no truth in this perception.
What does history tell about the sovereignty of Philippines over Mindanao?
Historically, Mindanao is not originally part of the GRP. A study by Abhoud Syed M. Lingga of the University of the Philippines Institute of Bangsamoro Studies says that:
"The Bangsamoro people have the right to self-determination. They qualify as people who hold the right to self-determination, because they have a common historical tradition and religious affinity and share many cultural practices. They occupy contiguous territory (maritime societies are connected by the sea) with rich natural resources."
"Before the arrival of the Spanish colonialists, the Bangsamoro were already in the process of state formation, while Luzon and the Visayas were still in the barangay stage of political development. The Bangsamoro had their own government and trade and diplomatic relations with other societies. They had developed well-organized administrative and political systems; and strong maritime and infantry forces that defended the Bangsamoro territories from Western colonial intrusion, preserving the continuity of their independence."
"During the American occupation the Bangsamoro homeland was administered separately from the Philippines. When the U.S. later decided to grant independence to the Philippines, Bangsamoro leaders asked Washington not to include the Bangsamoro territories in the would-be Philippine Republic. Even when their territories were made part of the Philippines in 1946, the Bangsamoro people continued to assert their right to independence."
"The Bangsamoro are still asserting their right to self-determination under Philippine sovereignty. The liberation movement, which started peacefully but later evolved into an armed struggle, sees the incorporation of the Bangsamoro homeland into Philippine territory without the Bangsamoro’s plebiscitary consent as violation of their basic human right to be free to determine their political status. The realization of their collective right to freely determine their political status vis-à-vis the Republic of the Philippines has been, and will continue to be, a goal to the Bangsamoro people to struggle for self-determination."
Below are two nice presentation in YouTube about the History of Islam in Philippines.
WE ARE NOT FILIPINOS, WE ARE BANGSAMORO
MINSUPALA IS BANGSAMORO HOMELAND
How did MNLF started?
In the 1950s, the GRP systematically encouraged and logistically assisted Filipino population from Luzon to move to Mindanao and Palawan in a project called Homestead Program. The Homestead was implemented in such a way that the GRP encroached and grabbed the vast "untitled" lands owned by the Bangsamoro people in Mindanao and gave away land titles to migrants from other parts of the country.
The Bangsamoro People resisted this systematic encroachment, especially the Muslims, and many bloody fightings happened. During the 1950s to 1980s in the history of the Bangsamoro people, they have recorded many sporadic gun-battles with the soldiers of the GRP as a result of land-grabbing and environmental exploitation activities by the GRP cronies.
In 1967, the AFP under the administration of Ferdinand Marcos had recruited young adventurist Tausugs boys from Sulu to train/join in an Special Forces Unit that will be sent on a special black ops mission to invade Sabbah. It was called Operation Merdeka. While these boys were on training in Corregidor in 1968, they were instigated systematically by maltreatment, non-payment of salaries, and in the end their trainors massacred them.
There was a Congressional inquiry led by then Senator Ninoy Aquino and it transpired that after the shootings, the bodies were tied on some sort of wood stalks and burned, then the remains were packed with poncho and dropped by helicopters over the waters of Manila Bay. It became popularly known as Jabidah Massacre or Corregidor Massacre. (Photo is a graffiti on the ruin walls of Corregidor by one of the Tausug trainees of the AFP that was massacred)
The Jabidah Massacre fiasco during the time of President Marcos resulted to breakdown of the diplomatic ties between Philippines and Malaysia from 1968 to 1993.
The Jabidah Massacre during the Marcos regime was widely regarded as having been the painful wound of treachery committed by the GRP against the Bangsamoro people that led to the outrage and rebellion of Bangsamoro intellectuals. Professor Nur Misuari, a Moslem who graduated from the University of the Philippines, rose to become the leader of this group with the title of Chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in the early 1970s.
Malaysia and many member countries of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) gave full support to the newly organized MNLF.
The OIC is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations which has membership of 57 states spread over four continents. It was since 1977 that the MNLF become accredited as observer member of the OIC and they only recognize Nur Misuari as the leader of the MNLF.
At present, Prof. Dr. Nur Misuari is still the Chairman of the MNLF. He is also the MNLF Central Committee Chairman. He is a United Nations Peace Awardee; Nobel Peace Laureate Nominee. He is Royal Datu of the Sultanate of Sulu, Datu Seri Panglima Darjat Mt. Kinabalu (State of Sabah), and Supreme Datu or Leader of the Bangsamoro Tribal or Ethnic Indigenous Communities in Mindanao.
How many have died in the MNLF-GRP conflict?
The MNLF is a liberation movement that is composed of freedom fighters from various religions such as Muslims, Christians, and Lumads. It proceeded to start the insurgency in the Philippines, in the hope of regaining Mindanao independence, or at the very least to start a regional autonomy for Mindanao. The GRP suppressed this liberation movement and as a result, Mindanao become a full-blown battle ground of armed conflict between the muslim-led MNLF and the GRP. I was told that since 1950s, the armed conflict have claimed a conservatively estimated of over 200,000 lives, not yet counting the millions of lives that are lost due to the poverty brought about by conflict on vulnerable groups including women and children.
Was there ever a peace talk between GRP and MNLF?
Various groups were advocating to end the hostilities in Mindanao. As a result, the GRP proposed peace talks with the MNLF. The MNLF accepted the peace talks in good faith and in that same year, the signing of the Tripoli Agreement of 23 December 1976 between MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari and GRP President Ferdinand Marcos was brokered by the Libyan politician Muammar Qaddafi and with the support of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The agreement provided for a CEASEFIRE and called for autonomy to 13 provinces of Mindanao under the broad principle that Mindanao would remain an integral part of the Republic of the Philippines.
The OIC is the 2nd biggest sub-group in the United Nations. It has 56 member countries. Starting 1977, the OIC recognizes the MNLF as observer member and Nur Misuari as the leader of the MNLF, such membership is not even given by OIC to the Philippine Government.
From 1976-1986, despite the signing of the Tripoli Agreement, President Marcos tricked the MNLF. He manipulated the leaders of MNLF with bribes of ghost projects while taking the opportunity to strengthen the military positions of the AFP in Mindanao with an intent to crush the MNLF. There were many instances that Marcos bribed some isolated units of the MNLF to surrender their firearms to the government just for the purpose of "photo opporunities", but later on just murdered the surrenderees one by one or sometimes en mass.
From 1986-1992, President Corazon Aquino met with Nur Misuari in Jolo to talk about peace. President Cory Aquino was perceived by the MNLF as serious in her good intentions because she facilitated the Republic Act No. 6734 in 1989 otherwise known as the Organic Act of the ARMM. But the downside of this era was the GRP was not able to implement initiatives to re-package the bad image of the government (lack of word of honor) in the Mindanao peace process especially in the implementation of the Tripoli Agreement.
It was during President Fidel Ramos that the progress of the peace process between the GRP and MNLF took off rapidly. In 1996, the Philippine Congress approved R.A. 9054 which legislated the amendment of RA 6734 to resolve the loopholes of the previous Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Organic Act.
What is MILF?
While the MNLF was born in early 1970s, the MILF was officially born in 1984 as a breakaway group of MNLF, and the first name if MILF was New MNLF. MNLF is meant to build equal bridges between Muslims and other religion, while MILF wants to establish an Islamic State of Mindanao.
Some old GRP military officers said that the MILF is the forerunner of the MNLF. Some also said that the MILF and MNLF had risen in almost the same time. However, I was told that the MILF as a separatist group from the MNLF, actually started way back in around 1977 by Hashim Salamat (photo below).
Hashim Salamat was formerly a government librarian who started his journey as a revolutionary in helping Nur Misuari organize the armed soldiers of the MNLF.
Sol Jose Vanzi made a summary report about Hashim Salamat in 2003. According to Vanzi, "in the 1960s, he was sent by the GRP to Egypt where he obtained an Islamic philosophy degree from Al Azhar college in 1967 and a masters degree two years later. He was also active in groups opposed to then President Ferdinand Marcos and was radicalized by Marcos’ growing strong-arm policies."
"Salamat was due to receive a doctoral degree but he chose instead to return to the Philippines to organize the main Muslim separatist group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under the leadership of another student activist, Nur Misuari."
"Although he had very little military training himself, he was credited with arranging the training of the first batch of MNLF fighters who would wage a bloody guerrilla war for a separate Islamic state in the south in the 1970s."
"Salamat served as vice chairman of Misuari until 1978 when he and other fighters broke away from the MNLF to form the MILF."
"Misuari had wanted a politically oriented campaign while Salamat was pressing for more radical action to create a purely Islamic state."
"Salamat has said there was an ethnic angle involved as well. Misuari’s MNLF had been dominated by members of his Muslim tribe, the Tausugs, while Salamat and his followers were mainly from the Maranao and Maguindanaoan tribes."
Hasim Salamat was born in Maguindanao in died in 2003 at age 61.
Despite the GRP-MNLF ceasefire, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), with their "divide-and-conquer" strategy, have continued to renege from the agreement. The AFP succeeded many times in infliltrating and creating factions within the MNLF. Some Muslim conservative, religious extremists, and violence-driven members of the MNLF broke off and organized themselves into an extremist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). MILF used a MNLF-sounding name, they use almost the same flag the only distinctive difference is that the MILF has a color green.
Some MILF became kidnapping terrorists called Abbu Sayaff Group (ASG). These separatist groups (MILF and ASG) have earned reputation of notoriety through the years and have been branded as terrorists by many.
There are articles in Wikipedia about the MILF. During the Ramos administration a cessation of hostilities agreement was signed between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in July 1997. This was continued by a series of peace talks and negotiations in Estrada administration. However the MILF, an Islamic group formed in 1977, seeks to be an independent Islamic State from the Philippines, despite the agreements, a sequence of terrorist attacks with the Philippine military and the civilians still continued.
It was later divulged in a Senate Hearing by then Lt. Trillanes that the Military was behind these terrorist attacks to justify the "All-out-war policy" of the government and it was masterminded by Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes. Such of those attack are 277 violations committed, kidnapping a foreign priest, namely Father Luciano Benedetti, the occupying and setting on fire of the municipal hall of Talayan, Maguindanao; the takeover of the Kauswagan Municipal Hall; the bombing of the Lady of Mediatrix boat at Ozamiz City; and the takeover of the Narciso Ramos Highway.
By doing so, they inflicted severe damage on the country's image abroad, and scared much-needed investments away.Because of this, on March 21, 2000, President Joseph Estrada declared an "all-out-war" against the MILF. During the war the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) asked Estrada to have a cease-fire with MILF, but Estrada opposed the idea arguing that a cease-fire would cause more terrorist attacks. For the next three months of the war, Camp Abubakar, headquarters of the MILF, fell along with other 13 major camps and 43 minor camps, and then all of which became under controlled by the government.
The MILF leader Hashim Salamat fled the country. The MILF later declared a Jihad on the government. On July 10 of the same year, the President went to Minadanao and raised the Philippine flag symbolizing victory. After the war the President said, "... will speed up government efforts to bring genuine and lasting peace and development in Mindanao". In the middle of July the president ordered the military to arrest top MILF leaders.
In his state of the nation address, popularly called "SONA", then President Estrada highlighted his vision for Mindanao:
* The first is to restore and maintain peace in Mindanao—because without peace, there can be no development.
* The second is to develop Mindanao—because without development, there can be no peace.
* The third is to continue seeking peace talks with the MILF within the framework of the Constitution—because a peace agreed upon in good faith is preferable to a peace enforced by force of arms.
* And the fourth is to continue with the implementation of the peace agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front, or MNLF—because that is our commitment to our countrymen and to the international community.
In addition to this, then President Estarada said his administration can move with more speed in transforming Mindanao into a progressive economic center. High on the list of priorities was the plight of MILF guerrillas who were tired of fighting and had no camps left to report to.
On October 5, 2000 the first massive surrender of 669 MILF mujahideen led by the renegade vice mayor of Marugong, Lanao del Sur Malupandi Cosandi Sarip and seven other battalion commanders, surrendered to President Joseph Estrada at the 4th ID headquarters in Camp Edilberto Evangelista, Bgy. Patag, Cagayan de Oro City. They were followed shortly by a second batch of 855 surrenderees led by MILF Commander Sayben Ampaso on Dec. 29, 2000.
During the short 18 months of the Estrada Administration, the MILF suffered heavy casualties and fall-outs. On the other hand, the MNLF continues to grow.
What is the position of MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari over these continuing armed conflicts in Mindanao despite the ceasefire?
These anomalous battles on the ground have not affected the enthusiasm of MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari to move forward to achieve further progress in the peace process negotiations.
In 1993, the MNLF was accredited by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which allows it to represent the Mindanao people with an observer status.
It was also in 1993 (during President Ramos time) that the GRP and MNLF signed a Ceasefire Agreement to facilitate the peacetalks, which is still in effect and on-going at present. Ceasefire means both sides agreed that they will be NO OFFENSIVE HOSTILITIES, NO PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKES, and NO ARRESTS against one another.
While the ceasefire and peace talks are in full effect, both parties are mutually tolerant of each other's exercise of political freedom. It means the MNLF will not suppress GRP personnel roaming in Mindanao, and likewise GRP will not suppress MNLF personnel roaming all over in the Philippines.
During the Ramos Administration in 1996, a compromise was finally reached by MNLF and the GRP which granted the creation of Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The downside of implementation of the ARMM was that some local politicians were influenced by the operators in the national government in corrupting the ARMM funds, and they did all those anomalies without the knowledge of MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari. When the corruption was discovered later on, it was too late already for MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari to watch his back to correct it. With the notice of corruption, the development funds for ARMM from all sources were withheld. As a result, the ARMM did not took off smoothly.
Despite these setbacks, MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari still continued to persist in advocating towards the genuine implementation of the Tripoli Agreement.
What is the trend of the numbers of MNLF members through the years?
Since 1998 up to present, National Statistics have persistently shown that Mindanao is home to seven out ten poorest provinces in the Philippines. The poverty is attributed primarily to the neglect of the GRP. The GRP made Mindanao an exploitation zone of minerals and fishery, primary source of domestic maids, military exercise zone, and Mindanao is always behind in public investment of the GRP. The frustration have lead to fast growth of MNLF numbers in the last decade compared to the previous decades.
In terms of military strength of MNLF, many who own firearms, some private armies of politicians, some private citizens, some members of the separatist group MILF, and some members of the New People's Army (NPA) have began to join the MNLF and recognize Chairman Nur Misuari as the leader of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Government (BAG). The Mindanaoans are rapidly consolidating under one political banner.
I was told by a Commander of the MNLF combatants who have visited most camps that long firearms of men enlisted and reserved in the MNLF revolutionary army is now reached a conservative estimate of around 700-800 thousand, which is over five times the number of GRP soldiers and policemen deployed in Mindanao. The rapid consolidation is a spontaneous effect of the poverty situation and frustration that is continuously rising in Mindanao.
In the aspect of leadership, the original MNLF leaders are already getting old. Their middle-aged leaders have not received much educaten needed to run the economy because they spent all of their youth-time fighting in the battlefield.
At present, the MNLF is aggressively calling-in the patriotism of Mindanao-born intellectuals (professionals and scientists) from various sectors to fill-in various leadership positions in the MNLF. I am one of those who heed the call.
What is the position of MNLF about other terrorist organization like Abu Sayyaf?
To answer this, I have to explain first the decent source of living of MNLF members. MNLF commanders and soldiers are self-reliant -- they survive their living from honest-to-goodness income-generating activities like farming and business. The MNLF combatants have their own Military Ethics and was always against any form of terrorism, whether extortion-generating or simply rampage of killings.
The MNLF also adheres to humanitarian policy as it provides shelter to any human beings who are fleeing for safety from harm, regardless of their affiliation, including GRP soldiers, US Soldiers, MILF soldiers, NPA soldiers, and even Abu Sayyaf fighters.
Any armed person who is being pursued by his/her enemies and tries to enter an MNLF-controlled territory is allowed to come-in for safety and shelter, however he/she is "disarmed" while inside the camp, though he/she will be punished by whipping if he/she has a record of wrong-doing in the MNLF. In short, if you are being threatened or pursued by the bad guys in Mindanao and you have no idea as to what group they belong, I would suggest you seek shelter in MNLF Camps.
Any unarmed person can enter MNLF camps to observe and enjoy the peace. Only MNLF Commanders have exclusive discretion to peace and order, and serve arrest/search warrants inside MNLF Camps.
Members of Muslim-dominated groups that are branded by the GRP as terrorists operating in Mindanao are recognized as "Muslim Brothers" by MNLF members who are Moslems. However, they are really a big headache of the MNLF. The MNLF have its own National Elite Security Units (NESU) who are focused on systematic eradication of terrorists operating anywhere in Mindanao. NESU operations are executed by the Bangsamoro Special Forces (BSF). The MNLF believes that the GRP is the big mastermind of terrorism in Mindanao and that the AFP have an invisible hand over the creation, funding, and manipulation of terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf and MILF troops who attacks on Christian communities and tourists. (Photo is the Burnhams who were kidnapped for ransom by the Abu Sayaff in 2002)
What is the recent development in this Bangsamoro independence issue?
March 2009 up to present is the period of most recent development of the MNLF-GRP Peace Process. A Legal Panel to represent the MNLF and GRP has been formed to patch-up the loop-holes of the previous agreements to achieve a genuine autonomy. The legal panels were formed based on the agreement during the third tripartite meeting between the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), GRP and MNLF held on March 13, 2009. The panels have been tasked to transform the common proposals between the two parties into legal form and to arrive at common grounds to move forward. This legal panel have recently concluded some agreements on various issues and another agreement is scheduled to be signed in Jeddah in the first quarter of 2011.
Sir John, how are you connected with MNLF?
My name is John Remollo Petalcorin. I am a Bangsamoro, born in Maramag Bukidnon, Mindanao in 1973. I am an Economist (UPLB), a Gun-Crime Control Advocate, a Buyer's Broker, and a Political Exhortationist. In November 2010 I had many instances of personal interaction with one of the top leaders of MNLF and we shared many common denominator in vision, values and principles in politics and economics for the interest of Mindanao.
I witnessed the negotiation between the GRP and MNLF in Tagaytay and it was the first time I heard Nur Misuari spoke about his love and aspirations for Mindanao. I can attest that no one comes close to the genuine spirit of Nur Misuari with respect to defending the interest of Mindanao.
I researched about the MNLF and found out that 99 out of 100 publications about the MNLF in the internet are negative propaganda, total lies, and instigation-motivated. Although the MNLF knows that there is no truth in these negative publications, the MNLF has not systematically published any protest reaction so far to counter-attack the malicious propaganda of the GRP against them, on reason that they believed that answering back to the GRP may cause further conflict.
I expressed my concern over this vast malicious propaganda against the MNLF. I explained to them that an Advocacy Unit is very important for the truth to come out about the goodness of MNLF and or Mindanao. I gave them a working plan on how the advocacy can be done. The MNLF appreciated my concern and proposals.
Events happened so fast, and in 10 December 2010 I am officially enlisted as member of the MNLF. No less than MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari and MNLF Chief Political Coordinator HJ Gapul Hadjirul signed my appointment. I am enlisted in the MNLF as:
* Director for Advocacy Communications and Charity Projects
* Negotiator for Special Economic Development Projects
* Reserved Commander of the National Elite Security Unit
The MNLF placed me in a position where I am best-fit in terms of competitive strength and enthusiasm. Although my designation and function is purely non-combatant, I hold a revolutionary rank of a Commander in the National Elite Security Unit (NESU) of the MNLF.
My mission in the MNLF are:
MY MISSION IN THE MNLF
John Odonnell Remollo Petalcorin
(1) Represent the MNLF in communicating with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRPH) and provide information that will ensure guidance to both party’s commitment to the Tripoli Agreement of 1976 and the Final Peace Agreement of 1996.
(2) Identify and implement economic development projects that are primarily intended to eradicate poverty, in such a sustainable manner that the environment and natural resources of the Bangsamoro Land is protected.
(3) Act as catalyst in promoting the MNLF’s Egalitarian Doctrine, wherein all persons are treated as equals regardless of differences in religion and ethnic origin.
(4) Enhance the Bangsamoro People’s identity, sense of belongingness, and national pride through advocacy and responsiveness to people’s questions.
My approach to regaining Bangsamoro independence is through Economic Development. With the help of the 56-member countries of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), I will convert the poorest settlements in Mindanao, especially the MNLF-controlled territories, into New Bangsamoro Townships. This vision will smoothly take-off into a detailed program through the implementation of the Bangsamoro Outreach Project that I will personally manage.
WHY Choose MNLF?
CREDIBLE AND COMPETENT LEADERSHIP
The Founder and Chairman of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is Professor Dr. Nur Misuari, the only politically active leader in the Philippines right now who is distinguished as a certified UN Peace Awardee and Nobel Peace Laureate Nominee.
ARMED TO THE TEETH YET RESPECTFUL OF HUMAN RIGHTS
According to the United Nations Security Council report in 23 April 2010, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), New People's Army (NPA), and the Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP) are among the groups around the world that have subjected minors to the most brutal violence, such as killings, maimings, rapes and other sexual assaults. (http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/asp/ws.asp?m=a%2F64%2F742). MNLF is not mentioned as a human rights violator in the 51-page report. Despite its huge number of armed freedom fighters, the MNLF has consistently maintained the discipline and integrity of its men and commitment to the Peace Agreement. The MNLF is also pioneer in Armed Forces Humanitarianization Program.
The MNLF has this ideology called Egalitarian Doctrine, wherein persons are treated equally regardless of differences in religion and ethnic origin.
MNLF is recognized since 1977 as an observer member of the Organization of Islamic Conference, the 2nd largest sub-cluster in the United Nations with 56-member States. This recognition is not even granted by OIC to the Philippine Government who requested for it.
What is the tie between the MNLF and the PNoy Admin as of now (as of December 2010)?
The MNLF and Noy Aquino Administration are "Prudent Friends".
The MNLF supports the PNoy Administration's anti-corruption and truth-seeking project of auditing how the ARMM funds during the Arroyo Administration.
On the economic side, we have initial observation that PNoy "probably" supports Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) commitment to the Peace Process with the MNLF and the GRP supports the economic development of the Bangsamoro land. The MNLF have its own economic projects for Mindanao that is aligned with the Millenium Development Goals (MDG) of the United Nations.
The MNLF hopes that all priorities of the GRP will align with the MDG that the MNLF supports. The MNLF expects that GRP will implement programs that will be benefited by the poorest provinces, 7 out of the top 10 of which are in Mindanao.
The UNITED NATIONS Millenium Development Goals for 2015
1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2: Achieve universal primary education
3: Promote gender equality and empower women
4: Reduce child mortality
5: Improve maternal health
6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7: Ensure environmental sustainability
8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development
The Meaning of the Symbols in the MNLF Flag
The three symbols represent the harmony of the Bangsamoro heart, mind, and body.
The STAR symbolizes the Bangsamoro virtues of TRUTHFULNESS, FAIRNESS, EQUALITY, and TOLERANCE to individual differences which guides the judgement of the leaders and people of the Bangsamoro Land. The color of the star is yellow gold.
The CRESCENT MOON symbolizes the Bangsamoro WISDOM as we endlessly journey through Political Changes, Technological Progress, and Economic Development. The color of the Crescent Moon is yellow gold.
The KRIS SWORD symbolizes Bangsamoro STRENGTH which defends our People's Freedom, Native Culture, Peacefulness, and Territorial Integrity. The Color of the Kris Sword is white with a yellow strip and its handle have five black stripes.
The Kris Sword is at the lower center and pointed to the right, which means the sword will always make loyalty decisions for the interest of the Bansamoro motherland. Above the Kris Sword is the Crescent Moon at the middle left side. Above the Crescent Moon is the Star. The two lower legs of the Star touches the tips of the Crescent Moon.
The background of the flag has a color Red, which represents the Bangsamoro activism, decisiveness, persistence, frugality, and sacrifices in pushing forward the revolutionary struggle for survival, self-determination, and success.
QUESTION: Sir John, why are christians not represented in the symbols of the MNLF flag?
ANSWER: The star, crescent moon, and kris sword in the MNLF Flag are not Islamic symbols, they are not religious symbols. For the MNLF, people are equal, regardless of religion. The MNLF does not divide or categorize people according to religion.
The MNLF Flag must be respected in its historical sense. Let's respect the ones who started the revolutionary movement and lasted for 46 years up to now. They designed the flag 46 years ago, we were not there. The flag cannot be made a smorgasborg plate wherein you put in all kinds of representation (religion, geographic, gender, ethnic origin, etc etc). It should be retained as is.
In fact, there is no such thing as an Islamic official symbol. Islam prohibits the use of symbols and images to represent their Prophets, Allah, or the Islam Religion per se. Some types of Cristians use a lot of symbols and images like a cross, rosary, graven images of Jesus or any Saints. But Moslems don't do that kind of thing. For Moslems, it is a sin, a disrespect, and a violation against them if you associate Islam with symbols and images.