MANILA, Philippines (Philippine Star) -- Malacañang yesterday allayed fears over the threat of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to establish an independent republic in Mindanao if the government implements the Bangsamoro framework agreement signed by the administration and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).


Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda assured MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari that his group would not be left out, even if the former rebel leader believes that the administration of President Aquino is bent on closing the final peace accord of the government and the MNLF that was forged in 1996.


Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles clarified that it was not the final peace agreement that was being abrogated but the review process.


“It’s very clear with the facilitator – Indonesia is our facilitator with the talks between GPH (government of the Philippines) and the MNLF – that they support the completion of the (accord), not of the abrogation of any agreement, but on the statement made by Secretary Deles,” Lacierda told newsmen.  


“And I am not sure if it is the entire MNLF which is supporting secession,” he added.


“The Bangsamoro framework agreement will benefit all Bangsamoro – whether you are MILF or MNLF or Lumad, they will all benefit from this Bangsamoro framework agreement,” the Palace official stressed.


Lacierda added: “We ask MNLF to seriously look into this – seriously look into this agreement, not as MNLF but as Bangsamoro, and it includes everyone: MILF, MNLF, and the Lumads.”


This developed as Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate committee on peace, unification and reconciliation, said yesterday that Congress would have to check the details of a proposed separate police and security force under the Bangsamoro peace accord.


Guingona agreed with the stand of Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima that there should only be one national police force.


“That means that should be followed because that is the Constitution. It should be followed. Therefore, there should only be one PNP. However, there could be sub branches of PNP,” Guingona said.


Guingona pointed out that “sub-branches” should remain under the supervision of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the PNP.


Asked if such setup could be done under an autonomous region as proposed in the Bangsamoro entity, Guingona admitted that the security issue should be threshed out with lawmakers.


“That is one of the ticklish issue. I don’t want to preempt them. That is certainly an issue we need to look into,” Guingona said.


Over the weekend, Purisima reiterated that the police personnel under the new Bangsamoro should pass the requirements set by the PNP leadership and the National Police Commission, which has supervision over the national police force.


Lacierda said that the primary objective of government is to achieve peace in the region where conflict has become a way of life.


“Isn’t it saddening? The objective is to have peace, so that we, the Bangsamoro people, will earn dividends from that. And who are the Bangsamoro people? The Bangsamoro people also include the MNLF.”


Deles is nevertheless working on that aspect, Lacierda revealed.  “Secretary Deles is already working on that point. That’s the reason why she went to Indonesia and met with the facilitator of the GPH-MNLF talks to discuss that.”


“But, on the whole, the Bangsamoro framework agreement, if signed, will bring about the peace dividends that Muslim Mindanao has been longing for so many generations,” he said. “And so, we ask them to consider and take a look that this will redound to your benefit.”


Misuari disclosed to journalists earlier that Malacañang has sent letters to the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) seeking the closure of all agreements with MNLF, including the 1996 peace agreement.


He said the OIC secretary-general furnished him with a copy of the explanatory note submitted by Malacañang dated March 21, 2013, requesting the OIC to put closure to the tripartite review process on the final implementation of the 1996 peace accord.


“The Philippine government is proposing the closure of our peace process and with the closure of the peace process, that means the Philippine government will do away with the series of peace treaty agreements and on peace accord that we signed over a number of decades in our collective efforts with the participation of the OIC 57 member-states. Now they want this set aside,” he complained.


Misuari likewise warned that pursuing the closure of the MNLF peace accord would give them the option to declare independence of the Bangsamoro homeland. – Delon Porcalla with Christina Mendez/Philippine Star