Monday, November 24, 2008

October 29, 2008

Filipino Muslims in KSA appeal for end to fighting in Mindanao

10/29/2008 07:52 PM

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – Filipino Muslim organizations in western Saudi Arabia have added their voices to a call for government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to return to the peace table.

In an appeal addressed to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the United Bangsaranao Council (UBC), a Jeddah-based umbrella organization of 32 Maranao community organizations, expressed concern over the effects of continuing hostilities between government and MILF combatants on civilians.“Fighting punishes the innocent, particularly the young, old, and the infirm," a UBC statement said during a gathering at the Tropicana Restaurant in Jeddah over the weekend.

They noted that more than half-a-million people, Muslims and Christians alike, were forced to flee their homes at the height of fighting between government forces and fighters of the MILF led by Ameril Umbra Kato and Abdulrahman Macapaar, a.k.a. Commander Bravo in Central Mindanao over the past weeks.

Over 80 people have been reported killed and scores more were injured in days of fighting.Kato and Bravo seized or attacked several barangays in the southern provinces of North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte after the Supreme Court on August 4 stopped government and MILF from signing a memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain, which sought to delineate more than 700 villages in Mindanao and Palawan to constitute a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE).

The memorandum would have committed the government to sign a peace deal with the MILF and granting the group control over the BJE, which would constitute a Muslim homeland that includes the existing Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).Amid an outrage among politicians in Mindanao who were opposed to the expanded autonomous region, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo abandoned talks with the MILF.

She blamed the attacks by Kato, Bravo and another commander for her decision, and demanded that the MILF leadership arrest and hand over the two commanders to government authorities to answer for their attacks.

In their appeal, UBC leaders said it is incumbent upon the Arroyo government to demonstrate its sincerity in pursuing a lasting peace in the southern Philippines.Sheik Albani Maungco of the Council of the Maranao Leaders said the government ought to offer and a solution that is acceptable to the Bangsamoro people.

"Political solution ang pinakamagandang pormula sa Mindanao dahil ang giyera ng mahigit apat na dekada na ay nabigong maipakita na iyon ang solusyon (A political solution is still the best formula to resolve the Mindanao crisis. As had been shown in the past four decades, war is not a solution)," Maungco said.

Among the organizations under the United Bangsaranao Council are the Bangsaranao Overseas Solidarity for Social Welfare, Ranao Claims against the Power Plant , Abna Marantao Fi Saudia, Amboloto Clan, Amsoda, Association of Ranao Engineers, Baloi and LN Muslim Expatriates Association, Binidayan Islamic Association, Buadi Puso Buntong Association, Ewaton International, Ganassi Union Islamic Development, Green land Unayan, Lanao Lakers.

It also includes the Maisa, Malabang Islamic Foundation, Malumbay International, Marawi Expatriates, Moriatao Angoyao, Moriatao Diwan, Mulondo Overseas Association, Nunungen Overseas Association, Pantarian Plotters, Pantao Ragat Overseas Org., Madalum Islamic Solidarity Assn., Saguiaran International Assn., Shakba International, SILSILA, Tamparan Islamic Bro. Assn., Taraka Alkhairia, Togayanian, Tubaranians and the Pualas Expatriates. - GMANews.TV

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