LANAO DEL NORTE, Philippines – Lanao del Norte 2nd District Representative Abdullah Dimaporo and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) North Western Mindanao Front commander Hadji Abdullah “Commander Bravo” Macapaar recently met for the first time in more than 30 years.
The two met on Sunday, January 13, at Camp Bilal in Tamparan, Munai, in Lanao del Norte. The meeting was brokered by Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPPAP) Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.
The Dimaporos of Lanao del Norte are campaigning to stop the inclusion of 6 towns – Tagoloan, Balo-I, Pantar, Munai, Tangcal, and Nunungan – in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm). Macapaar, being a commander of the MILF, which negotiated the BOL with the Aquino administration, is campaigning for a “yes” vote.
Dimaporo said he told Macapaar: “Let’s campaign for what we believe in, I campaign for no, you campaign for yes, but in the end, let the people vote.”
Dimaporo shared with Rappler on Wednesday, January 16, how his meeting went with Macapaar, who he said is his distant relative. The meeting lasted for an hour and 30 minutes.
The congressman said the meeting with the MILF commander was “cordial and warm” and that Macapaar mostly remained silent, listening to his offer for peace and development the entire meeting.
Dimaporo said he also asked Macapaar to let the people of Lanao del Norte vote freely on February 6 during the plebiscite on whether the local governments within the province should be included in the expanded Muslim region under a ratified Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
Should the 6 towns vote for inclusion in the Barmm, they can be overruled by their mother province should the latter vote “no.”
Dimaporo clarified that they are supporting the Bangsamoro Organic Law but they are against the inclusion of Lanao deo Norte’s 6 towns.
Macapaar has a history of violence as he and his fighters attacked Kauswagan, Kulambogan, and Maigo when the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) was scrapped in 2008 under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Dimaporo said he asked Macapaar not to resort to violence if the province voted “no.”
“He (Macapaar) only cites the Quran that prohibits the killing of innocence,” Dimaporo said. “For me, that is an indication from Macapaar that he will let the people vote freely.”
Peace Secretary Galvez said in a statement that both sides agreed to work collectively for peace and bring development in the area.
“Both men have agreed to set aside their political differences in preparation for the peaceful conduct of the upcoming plebiscites for the Bangsa Moro Organic Law scheduled on
January 21 and February 6, 2019,” he said.
Also present at the historic meeting were Brigadier General Thomas Sedano Jr, commander 2nd
Mechanized Brigade, and Butch Malang, chairperson of the MILF’s Coordinating Committee
on the Cessation of Hostilities. – Rappler.com
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