Wednesday Oct, 27 2021 08:38:05 AM

BTA’s plan to honor pioneer “mujahideen” gains support

BANGSAMORO NEWS UPDATES • 08:15 AM Mon Jul 19, 2021
John M. Unson
The Bangsamoro regional government center in Cotabato City. (John Unson)

COTABATO CITY --- “There is wisdom in the move of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) to honor the pioneer “top” 90 and 300 fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front, trained in Malaysia, for their roles in the Southern Philippine Moro uprising.”

That, Gerry Salapuddin, administrator of the Southern Philippines Development Authority, stated in a narrative that he wrote and dispatched to media outlets on Saturday.

Salapuddin, thrice wounded in combat as an MNLF leader in Basilan during the 1970s, however, said there is a “third group,” or 3rd Batch of mujahideen (freedom fighters) that also contributed to Moro cause worth mentioning in the envisioned special citation.

He said the fighters who belong to the 3rd Batch forged ahead with the struggle after many of those before them either got martyred or have acceded to Malacañang’s reconciliation program.

He mentioned the late Yusoph Jikiri of Sulu as among those in the 3rd batch of MNLF leaders who led guerilla groups that stood for the front until it reached a peace pact with Malacañang.

The peace agreement was signed by revolutionary figurehead Nur Misuari, founder of the MNLF, and President Fidel Ramos on September 2, 1996.

It was brokered by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of more than 50 Muslim states, including petroleum exporting countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Jikiri had served as governor of Sulu and congressional representative of the island province.

Sulu is inside the core territory of BARMM that also covers the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Lamitan, Marawi and Cotabato.

Salapuddin said the present chairperson of the MNLF’s Lupah Sug Revolutionary Committee in Sulu is also from the 3rd Batch of MNLF leaders.

“In Tawi-Tawi, there is Laurel Tahil, also from the 3rd Batch, who became the provincial chairman there, a successor of Damning Sali from the second batch of (pioneer) MNLF mujahideen,” he said.

Salapuddin said he took over in the 1970s the MNLF leadership in Basilan from Hadji Hudan Abubakar, who then returned to mainstream society, along with most foreign-trained cadres under him, bringing with them all of their firearms.

“I was left, along with some companions, to fill the void. With the guidance of Allah, we in Basilan managed to continue with the struggle for land, people and faith,” he said.

He said two more subsequent batches of MNLF mujahideen were trained abroad, but have not figured in extensive tactical engagements owing to the crafting of the front’s final peace accord with the national government on September 2, 1996.

The compact was premised on the December 23, 1976 government-MNLF “Tripoli Agreement,” crafted by representatives from both sides in Tripoli, the capital of Libya, an OIC-member state.

The Tripoli Agreement was to become the “mother of all agreements and security compacts” between the MNLF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, whose chairman, Hadji Murad Ebrahim, is now BARMM’s chief minister.

Salapuddin said the BTA should invite resource persons who can provide correct insights on the history of the pioneer batches of Moro mujahideen, essential to the crafting of a bill meant to honor the guerillas who fought for a “rebirth” of Moro nation.

Salapuddin has emphasized that he supports the BTA bill meant to give honor to the mujahideen from whose sweat, blood and tears, pain of separation from families and even torture by state authorities, catalyzed the creation of BARMM.

“We are happy to have BARMM in the homeland now” he said.


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