Monday, October 8, 2012

Biggest Muslim religious organization

By Edwin O.Fernandez

The leader of the biggest Muslim religious organization in the country welcomed the "framework agreement" that will eventually become the mother agreement that will address the Bangsamoro problem.

Ustadz Jaafar Ali, leader of Darul Ifta (House of Opinion) and founding chair of the National Ulama (Islamic preachers) Council of the Philippines (NUCP), said the preliminary agreement was already a "done deal."

"We are now guaranteed that Bangsamoro people can freely exercise their right to self determination," Ali said a day after President Aquino announced that the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have forged the peace deal.

"It may take some time, but at least we are now certain that the government recognizes our peoples' dream of self governance," he added.

On the inclusion of the city to the areas to be covered by the new political entity that will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Ali said the people will have their voices heard in a plebiscite to be called for that purpose.

"While many wanted Cotabato City to form part of the NPE, a plebiscite will give them the opportunity to concretize and make their voices heard," he added.

Cotabato City Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema, chair of the MNLF which, in 1996, forged a peace agreement with the past administration, also welcomed the framework agreement.

"We hope there could be some integration so all the Bangsamoro people will benefit in the dividends of the peace agreement," he said.

Sema, who is seeking the mayoralty of Cotabato in next year's balloting, said many Cotabatenios favored the inclusion of the city to NPE, since it has been hosting the autonomous regional government since 1990.

He admitted though that there are also those who opposed to join the autonomous set up because of its failure to address the root cause of the problem.

Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo said the president's announcement about the preliminary accord came as good news to most people of the archdiocese.

Quevedo had been publicly supporting the peace process, especially the issue of self-determination of Bangsamoro people.

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