President Noynoy’s Narita gamble

Posted: August 6, 2011 in MILF, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front, Noynoy Aquino

Thursday night last week, as parts of the country were still reeling from the strong winds and rains unleashed by the tropical storm Kabayan, President Noynoy Aquino left the country and flew unannounced to Japan to meet with Murad Ebrahim, chair of of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in a hotel near the Narita airport.

President Aquino meet with MILF chair Murad Ebrahim in a hotel near Narita Airport (courtesy of Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The MILF is one of two armed organizations of the Bangsa Moro people in southern Philippines.  The other one, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), has concluded its final peace agreement (FPA) with the Philippine government in 1996.  Irritants continue to sour relations and both government and MNLF are negotiating an implementing accord of the 1996 FPA.

MILF fighters

Meanwhile, the government and the MILF got a fresh start after the 2008 debacle where the Philippine Supreme Court adjudged the framework agreement as unconstitutional.

Teresita Quintos-Deles, the presidential peace adviser who was with Noynoy in Tokyo, said Murad and Aquino discussed ways to push the peace process forward.

An official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the meeting was meant to give the peace talks “a shot in the arm” and show support from the “highest level.”

It appears that President Aquino had sought the meeting, which have been in the works since late June since he wanted to fast-track the peace negotiations and the implementation of peace agreements with the Muslim insurgencies.

Was it necessary and proper for the President to meet with MILF chair Murad Ebrahim?

One of the President’s closest allies, Senator Francis Escudero, opined that the President may be ill-advised to meet personally with Murad.  It would have been sufficient for Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Quintos-Deles to talk to Murad.

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman curiously observed that President Noynoy’s secret trip to Japan was a violation of the promise of full transparency.

I tend to agree with those who believe that the wisdom of the President’s move cannot be fully determined just yet.

If it will help lead to a durable peace between the government and the MILF, then his Narita gamble will have paid off.

  1. bongmendoza says:

    Reblogged this on bong mendoza's blog.

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