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GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari shared the stage with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Bangsamoro interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “Murad” Ebrahim in a rare display of unity during the ceremonial opening of the special region’s parliament in Cotabato City on Thursday afternoon, September 15.
Misuari, who led the MNLF, and Ebrahim, the chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), had separately fought the government for decades since the first Marcos administration.
But on Thursday afternoon, Misuari and Ebrahim warmly greeted each other in public before the country’s highest-ranking officials such as Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, Speaker Martin Romualdez, and Marcos who renewed the government’s commitment to the still-to-be-concluded peace process.
The MILF broke away from MNLF after the failed implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement between the first Marcos administration and the MNLF.
Ebrahim succeeded MILF founding chairman Salamat Hashim who died in 2003.
Mindanao-based news outfit MindaNews said the last time Misuari sat down and talked with an MILF leader was in March 1999 when he visited Hashim in an MILF camp. At that time, Misuari was the governor of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
On Sunday, September 11, Ebrahim visited the 83-year-old Misuari at his home in Davao City, a meeting which both described as a symbol of unity and solidarity.
It was Ebrahim who invited Misuari to grace the inaugural session of the Bangsamoro parliament.
Incidentally, two of Misuari’s children are among those appointed by Marcos to be members of the region’s caretaker, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).
Ebrahim said the MILF leadership has been reaching out to various stakeholders and important figures in the Bangsamoro such as MNLF.
He said the MNLF has joined the MILF in vowing “to work together for a united Bangsamoro, bound by our common goal.”
“We may have had differences in terms of strategies and means but at the end of the day, we are bound by our common call and, ultimately, our faith,” Ebrahim said.
He also called on Marcos to sustain the gains of the peace process.
Addressing Marcos, Ebrahim said, “The peace process started during your father’s time, and it would be a fitting end to this long journey if we could complete the process during your administration.”
He told Marcos that a successful full implementation of the Bangsamoro peace process could become “one of your greatest legacies.”
Marcos, for his part, pledged his administration’s “full and unwavering commitment” to the region.
He said, “The path to lasting peace is always under construction but we walk this path together. We walk it not because it is an easy one. We walk this path together because even if it is difficult, we know that at the end of the journey is historical justice, progress, peace and stability and the unity that our peoples and our nation have long aspired and so rightly deserve.”
Marcos added, “I look forward to the fulfillment of your visions to realize a united, enlightened, self-governing, peaceful, just, morally upright, and progressive Bangsamoro.”
It was the first time for Marcos to visit and address the BARMM parliament in Cotabato City since he assumed the post as president.
Until Thursday, his last visit to Mindanao was when Vice President Sara Duterte took her oath as the country’s second highest official in Davao City before June 30. – Rappler.com