Mar Roxas Brings Campaign Inside MILF Camp

Mar Roxas Brings Campaign Inside MILF Camp

 

 

Administration presidential bet Mar Roxas brought his campaign to Cotabato City on Thursday (March 31) and visited a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) camp, vowing to continue with the peace process for Mindanao.

Roxas, accompanied by Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and ARMM Vice Gov. Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, had a dialogue with members of Friends of Peace (FoP) hosted by Orlando Cardinal Quevedo. He was asked by Abdulbassit Benito of the Bangsamoro Center for JustPeace whether he would honour the Aquino government’s commitment to peace if he wins, to which he replied that he would find “common ground for common interest” rather than pushing for a “bigger but not the common interest.” He also added that he is open to amending some provisions of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by studying the complaints and learning from the processes to assure the passage of the concerned bill.

“Certainly, we will push for it. It will be a priority… rather than just refile the BBL. I think it’s important that we sit down and have a real sincere straight honest talk… so whatever will be refiled has a higher chance of success,” said Roxas.

Inside Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, the MILF Central Committee together with MILF Chair Al Haj Murad welcomed Roxas, but was quick to say that the group is not endorsing any presidential candidate. Reacting to the floated amendments in the proposed BBL, Murad said that they have no problems with any form of BBL that complies with the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. He added: “The major concern is the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement.”

The proposed BBL will pave the way for the replacement and expansion of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), under a set-up dominated by the Moro Liberation Front, which signed a historic peace agreement with the Aquino government.

While in Cotabato City, Roxas also explained his use of the phrase “Muslim na Mananakop” (Muslim Invaders), which immediately drew controversy, to answer a question fielded by Sen. Grace Poe during the last presidential debate about his role in the 2013 Zamboanga siege. Roxas said that the phrase was not meant to malign all Muslims. He admits that he regrets not having used a better term to describe some members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who were part of the siege.

The administration bet’s visit to the heartland of Muslim Mindanao is trying to prove that the region is not solidly behind Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who is the only presidential candidate from Mindanao.

Roxas is the second presidential candidate to visit the MILF camp after Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s visit on February 27. Duterte highlighted his having had a Maranaw grandmother and proposed having the BBL as a “template” for federalism in other regions.

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