Senator Chiz Escudero urged Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari to heed the call for peace and help make the freshly signed Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro work.

Misuari, a former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor, had earlier denounced the peace accord and called it a “recipe for another big, big war in Mindanao”.  The Bangsamoro Framework Agreement replaced the ARMM which was created in 1996.

“I am appealing to the sense of collective peace of former Governor Misuari. The path to peace has been an arduous and costly struggle for our brothers in Mindanao. This framework accord on Bangsamoro is a fresh start for all. I urge the esteemed leader to cooperate in working for our common goal of a lasting peace in Mindanao”.

Days after Malacaňang announced the framework agreement, Misuari claimed that some 17,000 armed fighters bolted the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and joined the MNLF to protest the newly minted peace accord.

Escudero said the Government of the Philippines (GPH) panel should verify the report to avoid a repeat of what happened in 1996 when the ARMM agreement was signed. “We don’t want to replicate the events in 1996, where we were still fanning the ink to dry on the ARMM agreement when a new armed group was formed out of disagreement with that accord”.

“The President couldn’t have said it better when he said that much work remains to be done on order to achieve genuine peace in Mindanao. Real hard work begins now and a collective push from all stakeholders is very much needed,” Escudero said.

Earlier, the senator congratulated the national government of the Republic of the Philippines and the MILF on the historic signing of the framework agreement.

“It is only fitting that this landmark agreement should come at a time when the entire country is on the threshold of change, at a time when we as a people cast our lots in a collective push to build a good government that we deserve,” he said.

Escudero congratulated members of the peace panel, the Malaysian government led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, who flew to Manila Sunday ahead of the signing, as well as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and foreign governments and NGOs “who, in one way or another, helped in keeping the negotiations on track.”