Rebellion within rebel front

It looks like all is not well within the ranks of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). A crack is showing in its façade of unity and discipline. Media reported these past days of rumblings and expressions of dissatisfaction of recalcitrant members of the once monolithic rebel front. It is wracked with dissension. There is an emergence of a “wing,” or faction within itself. I wanted to trivialize it as a mere expression of protest to invite attention, like a child calling a father’s attention. But the fire is spreading. They came to town with the media in tow, spewing complaints and demanding a total revamp of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA). Are they just posturing so that they could share in the bonanza of benefits being enjoyed by a few, a classic case of unequal distribution of “the spoils of war”?

Whatever, the leadership of the front should act pronto to quell the unrest, else it will put in jeopardy not only the stability of the Front, but more importantly, the autonomous government given that they lead the latter by operation of law. Dissenters are like termites that corrode the pillars of an edifice, and in due time will cause its fall.

My interest was piqued by a report in mainstream media about the existence of the “Salamat Wing” (Sheik Hashim Salamat, now deceased, was the founding chairperson of the MILF, which broke away from Nur Misuari’s MNLF), headed by Sheik Abdulfatah Saleh Delna. I wanted to ignore it. It did not attract much attention until there was a press conference by some of the Front, pouring publicly their displeasure with the way the Front is being run. And the news gained currency, with the official statement of MILF chairperson Murad Ebrahim admonishing the public not to believe that the Front is divided and warning rumormongers they will be dealt with accordingly. We received a report that the Sheik Delna group was expelled from the MILF.

The timing of the coming out of a few disgruntled members of the Front is suspect. It came at a time when there is talk of an eminent appointment of BTA members. It was precipitated by the submission of the list of recommendees by the MILF Central Committee, chaired by Murad Ebrahim for appointment to the BTA, a case of post hoc, ergo, propter hoc. The complaining members were not in the list.

Do they want to be appointed also? Obviously. Under the Organic Law, 41 members of the BTA, which constitute majority of the 80-member regional parliament, shall come from the MILF. How they are chosen, whether a process of vetting is conducted, is not spelled out.

What this faction should avoid is referring to the political affiliation of the leadership of the Front in the last election as their impetus. It is cheap. The reason is not profoundly founded on the greater interest of many. It does not look statesmanlike to posit that because chairperson Murad sided with the losing presidential candidate, ergo his group should be replaced. Remember the Marcos-Duterte tandem won in the election on the theme of unity, and one’s party affiliation does not factor very much in choosing those who will serve the new dispensation in what Senator Imee Marcos calls “Team of Rivals.”

The peace being momentarily enjoyed in Morolandia is still fragile. It has not firmly taken ground yet. The struggle is continuing. What the Bangsamoro leaders need is to close ranks and not be polarized by petty ambition for power or favor. The greater call is still unity for the greater interest of many and not of the few.

Many suspect of Trojan horses inside the MILF, getting encouragement, if not support from outside forces who could be anti-peace by sowing dissension and disunity in the Front. Their aim is to alienate the present BARMM leadership from the new national leadership for their own agenda. Et tu, Brute?


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