A Muslim leader on Tuesday warned that a political conflict may erupt in war-torn southern Philippines should the government fail to unite parties opposed to the recently-agreed peace process.
Nur Misuari, first governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), was referring to the framework agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine government.
Misuari also expressed fears of a political conflict with the interference of Malaysia on the peace process in an effort to protect its interest over the islands of Sarawak and Sabah.
The two islets, which are now under the control of Malaysia, were claimed by the Philippine government during the administration of the late president Ferdinand Marcos.
The framework establishing a Bangsamoro State would be submitted to a referendum to replace ARMM, a Muslim state controlled by the MNLF after it was granted autonomy in 1996 under the 1976 Tripoli Agreement.
In an interview with DZRH Radio Manila, the MNLF leader said Malaysia stepped into the peace process to protect Sarawak and Sabah.
In an interview with DZRH Radio Manila, Misuari said establishing a Bangsamoro State in Mindanao would violate a constitutional provision that created ARMM.
He told radio anchors Joe Taruc and Cesar Chavez that the Bangsamoro framework is also extending its territories not covered by the ARMM.
Meanwhile, former North Cotabato governor Manny Pinol told Taruc and Chavez that the Bangsamoro framework is a “political arrangement” that could fuel a future revolution once the people in affected areas express their dissatisfaction.
In the Upper House, Senate Presidentsaid the Bangsamoro framework agreement would be a good experiment for a parliamentary form of government.
"This will be a good experiment to find out how a parliamentary system of government will operate,” Enrile said
He pointed out that the agreement espouses the establishment of a ministerial form of government for the Bangsamoro territory, replacing the structure of the ARMM.
Enrile also stressed that there are no provisions in the Constitution that prohibits the shift to a parliamentary form of government.
“I don’t think that it was provided in the Constitutional that we are a unitary system. In fact, we have the features of a parliamentary because we are now multi-party system,” he said.
Enrile’s statement, however, counters Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago's opinion that the Bangsamoro agreement would require constitutional amendments.
He said that the establishment of a Bangsamoro territory is "already a provision in the Constitution establishing autonomous regions."
"So as a matter of interpretation, you provide for the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). This is specific, for the ARMM and Cordillera, a formula similar to what was provided in the summary that I got,” Enrile said.
He said the move of the MILF to agree that the basic law for Bangsamoro and the transition government will have to undergo the processes of the Senate and the House of Representatives is an indication that the rebel group recognizes the authority of the national government.
The MILF is a breakaway group of the MNLF founded by Misuari. While asking for autonomy, an MILF faction came into existence and named it Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) headed by Umbra Kato, one of the two MILF commanders.
A political analyst said the problem in southern Philippines can be solved by just giving them land, but not airspace and seas.
He also said the framework agreement needs to be closely scrutinized by Congress and should undergo an extensive consultation.