ZAMBOANGA CITY – Unity among Moro leaders is a key to advance the common interest of the Bangsamoro people and ultimately bring peace in Mindanao, civil society organizations said.

Eddie M. Alih of the Muslim Upliftment Foundation of Tawi-Tawi, Inc. said Bangsamoro leaders should unite to respond to the Duterte administration’s campaign for an all-inclusive peace process in Mindanao.

“We are challenging the leadership of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) [and] the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) to get together for the sake of the Bangsamoro people,” he said during a peace forum here on Tuesday, November 8.

Alih also urged fellow peace advocates to unite for the Bangsamoro people as the government and the Moro fronts are now in the process of implementing all Bangsamoro peace accords.

Hafidz I. Kumar of the Basilan Youth Congress said all the Bangsamoro organizations including those from the royal houses of the Sultanes of Sulu and Maguindanao have a common aspiration.

“Kung ano po ang pinaglalaban ng mga Sultanate, MILF, MNLF at ano pang grupo pare-pareho lang po yan para sa mga mamamayang Moro, para po yan sa right to self-determination,” he said.

(The Sultanate, MILF, MNLF and other Moro groups are fighting for the same aspiration, which is the right to self-determination.)

The call to unify the Moro leaders came a day after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed an Executive Order that will create a new and expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC); a body which is tasked to draft a new enabling law that will serve as the legal foundation of the future Bangsamoro autonomous government in Mindanao.

Dickson Hermoso, assistant secretary of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), who was one of the resource speakers of the forum, assured that “no one should be left behind” in the peace process.

“The President’s guidance is clear that no one should be left behind in this entire process – that is to have an all-inclusive process. Regardless of the groups, everybody must jump on the bandwagon,” Hermoso, who is a member of the Government Panel Implementing the Bangsamoro Accords, pointed out.

“Let’s join. Let’s be a part of this historical exercise. Don’t just allow your leaders to do the decide for you. It is important that you – the stakeholders – must be heard,” he urged.

Hermoso said the government is working on two-pronged approaches—to settle the Moro rebellion problem politically, and to infuse socio-economic development projects in conflict-prone and affected areas throughout Mindanao. ###