Struggle for Bangsamoro independence continues

FROM PHILIPPINE STAR:

 

BIFM: Struggle for Bangsamoro independence continues

By Alexis Romero Home Updated October 15, 2012 05:07 PM

 

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM) on Monday said that the Bangsamoro framework agreement will not bring peace in Mindanao and vowed to continue calling for the creation of an independent homeland.

Abu Misri Mama, spokesman of the BIFM, insisted that the real aspiration of Bangsamoros is to achieve independence.

“Tuloy pa rin ang independence para sa Bangsamoro (Our struggle for independence for Bangsamoros will continue). The Bangsamoro political entity is not the aspiration of Bangsamoros,” Mama told radio station dzBB.

“What they are aspiring for is independence, a constitution that is not under any other political constitution,” he added.

The BIFM broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) due to some differences in policy.

Founded by former MILF commander Umbra Kato, the BIFM has criticized the MILF leadership for its alleged revisionist policy in abandoning its original stance of independence.

The military said the BIFM has about 400 members.

Mama said they would not use violence to sabotage the signing of a peace agreement. He, however, said they could resort to force to achieve their aims.

“We will not use violence to oppose that (Bangsamoro framework agreement) because that will be pointless,” the BIFM spokesman said in Filipino. “Pero gagamit kami ng dahas sa aming minimithi (But we will use violence for our aim).”

Mama said they are still waiting for the government to negotiate with them.

He admitted though that he has not read the 13-page framework agreement.

“We have a copy here but I did not read. Wala namang kabuluhan yan (it is pointless),” Mama said.

“As I said earlier, we will not commit violent acts because of the signing (of the framework agreement). We resort to violence because of our jihad,” he added.

Jihad denotes a “holy war” fought for the Islamic faith.

The BIFM consists of former MILF members who attacked civilians in various parts of Mindanao in 2008 after the Supreme Court voided the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD).

Hundreds of people including women and children, died due to the atrocities.

The MOA-AD would have formed a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity, which would have expanded the scope of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The new entity would have covered areas presently in Palawan in Luzon, South Cotabato, Zamboanga City, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte, and Zamboanga del Sur.

The MILF has been asking members of the BIFM to return to its fold, saying it “is not a joke or a picnic to start a revolutionary struggle.”

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MILF’s Umbra Kato on YouTube

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) Commander Umbra Kato is alleged by the government to be a “lost command” of the MILF and is being relentlessly pursued by the Philippine military.

In this video interview done on Sept. 23, 2008, Kato, who says he’s the Commanding officer of MILF’s 105th commans, insists that he is not a “lost command” and challenges the people who says he is to texplain or define what is “lost command.”

On July 1 of this year, he says, the soldiers invaded his colleagues who are “living silently in their own place”. He says that his friends simply fought back.

He accuses the military of terrorism, saying that driving people out of their place is a terrorist act. He says that they had to fight back because they have nowhere else to go. If they go to Luzon or Visayas (the other islands in the archipelago), the people of Luzon and Visayas would be angrier as they would not want them (Kato et al) to claim their lands.

Here, Kato is alluding to the basic cause of the conflict – the people of Luzon and Visayas have occupied Mindanao and now claims it for themselves.

The interviewer asked Kato why the government put a price on his head – 10 million pesos.

Kato answered that it is an indication that the government has already run out of tactics to employ against him. They (the military) used air strikes, artiller, ground forces with heavy weapons and armored vehicles. “But we are still here,” he says.

Putting a bounty on somebody’s head is an old tactic used by the “enemies of Islam”, Kato says. He explained that even the enemies of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) had put a bounty on the prophets head worth say, 100 camels.

When asked why the conflict escalated to other parts of Maguindanao, Kato answered that he thinks it has been the plan of President Arroyo to start trouble in Mindanao to justify the non-signing of the MOA.