27 Februari, 2016

Facilitating the peace process in southern Philippines


I met with H.E. Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim, Chairman of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on 25 February 2016 to discuss the peace process in southern Philippines which Malaysia is facilitating. Overall, we shared common sentiment over the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by the Philippines Congress.

During the discussion, I convinced H.E. Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim that despite the current setback, the MILF must remain faithful to the peace process since it is a practical choice to resolve the Bangsamoro issue. I also intimated to him that the process has been very successful in delivering relative peace and stability in the southern Philippines thus far. Reverting to armed struggle is definitely not an option and bloodshed must be avoided at all costs.

I also reiterated Malaysia’s commitment to continue to support the peace process beyond the Presidency of Benigno Aquino. Malaysia is ready and willing to work with the next President of the Philippines, regardless who will win the election. As a testament of Malaysia’s commitment, Defense Minister, YB Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein will be accompanying our new batch of observers in the International Monitoring Team (IMT) during the handing-over process in Cotabato City next month.

I have reached an understanding with H.E. Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim that the MILF should preserve the most significant gain of the peace process, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). The MILF must remain united, particularly at this trying time in order to face uncertainties and challenges.

And on his part, H.E. Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim has pledged his utmost commitment to sustain peace and its dividends.

Further, I encouraged H.E. Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim to actively reach out to other Moro groups in order to foster Bangsamoro unity and ensure the inclusivity of the current peace process. I call upon all groups in Mindanao to reject radicalization and extremism. As Muslims, we must uphold and implement wasatiyah, which brings forth a moderate, just and balanced way of life.

It is my personal wish to see lasting peace prevails. I envision the Philippines-MILF peace process as a model for resolving long-standing conflicts. This process has not only brought relative peace to the southern Philippines but also to the region. Should the process finally be completed it would also insulate Southeast Asia from threats by militant groups. I am confident that the conflicting parties will remain committed to find lasting peace, and Malaysia will continue to be an honest broker in this process.