Edit the Editorial — MNLF secretariat told Luwaran editors

Responsible journalism is founded on truth, validity and balance, and avoids to theme on doubtful questions of facts. The Editorial demands more. The editorial being the editor’s opportunity to criticize positively or negatively a news item should be sure and precise. It need not be eloquent but it must be intelligent. More importantly, it must be true and just.

Our examination of the Editorial of the Luwaran.com news last August 23, 2012 is that it is not only fallacious and misguided but also smacks of foolishness, arrogance, very uncharacteristic of an editorial and worse, poorly written. It thrives on rumors and poor intelligence. It depicts the bigotry of the editors and their careless tendency to adopt disinformation at face value. Otherwise, it is a complete disregard of journalistic obedience and good manners.

By and large, the editors of Luwaran.com news, the official website of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) completely disregarded the coordinating mechanisms we have established with our MILF brothers to settle disputes arising such as the issue at hand and they carelessly proceeded with the problematic editorial putting on the line our tactful relations with their principals. Whether or not the MILF consented to the ungenerous statements of the editors of Luwaran.com we are constrained to clarify certain points without meaning to embark on an unnecessary word war.

Dubbed as “APPEAL TO MNLF BROTHERS”, the appeal is aimed at the wrong direction. It should have been addressed to the BIFF-BIFM and not the MNLF. Our forces are not involved in the current fighting in Maguindanao and North Cotabato. Granting without admitting they are, the MNLF leadership and more so, the MILF leadership have not the right to despise them. We have been similarly forewarned and we knew very well this would inevitably happen considering the prolonged peace processes have taken its toll on the patience of some of our own men on the ground. A hard line revolutionary stance, without even mentioning extremism,   is bred by the trauma of insincerity and desperation, and molded by history and precedence. Be that as it may, we will look into the allegations and investigate.

Yet we do not see the wisdom of the editors’ appeal because, granting again, pursuing a position is a matter of choice. One can argue against the stance of another but one cannot force another to swallow a position. Our own experience is telling. We did not plead those who took a hard line stance during the “split” to reconsider because we respected the line they have towed. We were mindful that the split was counter-productive for the reason that it weakened our belligerent status and bargaining position then. Nevertheless, we painstakingly adapted to the situation and held our ground for after all we were firm in our resolve to end the armed conflict, and pursue a peaceful and negotiated political settlement of the problem in Southern Philippines. We did not doubt the position we have taken and we are standing by it except only when forced in a condition of self-preservation. Whether we took the correct position is another matter left to us alone and only history will judge us.

However and whatever, the MNLF has not joined forces with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. At least as of this moment, especially at a time when the GPH-MNLF-OIC/PCSP Tripartite Talks is coming to a positive closure, there is no reason for us to. More so, thousands of MNLF Integrees are stationed in the current area of fighting, are we going to fight against our own forces?

Further, returning to the mountains is the last thing in our minds though we are conscious whatever we achieve at present will influence the next generation. We will stand by the peace we have achieved in 1996. This is not, however, influenced by, what by the way, luxuries of life we have tasted. The editor should and will come to realize that in the end the dividends of peace will not be enough. Everyone will all be left to tend to themselves alone, and everyone will realize that achieving peace is not a luxury but a situation that comes with an obligation to uplift lives of the impoverished  Bangsamoro, not to mention the fighters and their families who have nothing left except their dignity and their ubiquitous firearms.

Furthermore, we are not hindering the current GPH-MILF peace process. We see the ends of the talks as promising. And as long as it is beneficial to the Moro people we will support it. After all, we fight for one people and one territory. The atrocities in Maguindanao that resulted to the displacement of our own people is unfortunate and uncalled for, yet to carelessly blame the MNLF leaders without sufficient proof is more unfortunate as it may lead to a misunderstanding between the 2 fronts.

Nevertheless, for the information of the editors, the current armed struggle in Maguindanao and North Cotabato is no less than an affirmation of the position of the late Ustadz Salamat Hashim during the “split” that only total independence can liberate the Bangsamoro People and their homeland, which the MILF he founded, now ironically, has abandoned. The editors of the Luwaran.com if they are MILF should know this. They cannot be ignorant of this. Those who continue to believe in the Salamat position, like the BIFM-BIFF, have embraced the same position and the correctness of their position is the least of our concern now and we dare not criticize them or any other Moro Revolutionary Organizations to avoid appearing reactionary. We only demand that the current armed confrontation be not imposed upon civilian targets, especially the MNLF civilians.

Finally, we are not bargaining with the GPH. We are demanding for the full and faithful implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement exploring on the principles of genuine autonomy, continuing dialogue and partnership. We believe the 1996 Final Peace Agreement when implemented in letter and spirit satisfies our clamor for self-determination. We have our own problems to settle with our counterparts in the GPH and we believe its settlement in good faith can be reached in the current tripartite review.

A piece of advice to the editors of Luwaran.com news before they write the editorial, they ought to know that the Bangsamoro political struggle is situated at an environment where different interests conflict with the Moro peoples’ interest and the current contrast is a clear and present danger to the Moro people’s interest. They should be conscious in drafting the editorial to the end that the tenor should not be divisive but should mobilize unification. The editors must not be trigger happy gunslingers of false and misleading thoughts, if not arrogant remarks, but they are is simply editors. They only need to know how to write and edit the editorial.



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