MILF forms United Bangsamoro Justice Party

DAVAO CITY, Philippines - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is ready for mainstream politics through its newly formed United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP).

MILF vice chair for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar said Wednesday, April 9, that they finalized plans to form the party last year, following various meetings with local leaders and the MILF's central committee, the policy-making body of the organization.

“This party is based on justice and is not exclusive. This is open to anybody who wants to join the party,” Jaafar said. He added that all MILF officials and members will be automatically listed as members of the political party.

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Aside from Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi, there are also UBJP groups in Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, Davao City, Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Butuan and Bukidnon, according to Jaafar.

The MILF recently signed a historic peace agreement with the Philippine government which aims to end more than 4 decades of conflict in key areas in Mindanao and address problems facing the Muslim minority in the country.

The peace deal envisions the setting up of a new political entity, the Bangsamoro region, which will be formed after the passage of a law and the holding of a plebiscite in Muslim areas in the region.

The MILF hopes to lead the regional government. But Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is saying the agreement is illegal as it aims to create a substate within the state, a claim denied by both peace panels.

To formalize the political participation of the UBJP, Jaafar said they will soon be submitting basic documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).

Jaafar said they are open to possible alliances with other political parties. “We are always open to talk to them."

He explained that the selection of UBJP officials, including the local party units, will be made through an appointment process supervised by the MILF's central committee.

Jaafar, however, stressed that the selection of candidates would be based on a democratic process and not on appointment.

“There will be a process on the selection of candidates and it will be open to anyone who is qualified based on the electoral requirements,” Jaafar said. – Rappler.com