Moro Islamic Liberation Front
Overview
 
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) (Arabic: جبهة تحرير مورو الإسلامية) is an Islamist  group located in the southern Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

. It is one of two Islamic militant groups, the other being the Abu Sayyaf
Abu Sayyaf
Abu Sayyaf also known as al-Harakat al-Islamiyya is one of several military Islamist separatist groups based in and around the southern Philippines, in Bangsamoro where for almost 30 years various Muslim groups have been engaged in an insurgency for an independent province in the country...

, that are fighting against Government of the Philippines. These groups are most active in the Bangsamoro
Bangsamoro
The term Bangsamoro refers to a people who are natives or original inhabitants of the island of Mindanao and its adjacent islands in the Philippines, including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or colonization...

region of Mindanao
Mindanao
Mindanao is the second largest and easternmost island in the Philippines. It is also the name of one of the three island groups in the country, which consists of the island of Mindanao and smaller surrounding islands. The other two are Luzon and the Visayas. The island of Mindanao is called The...

, the Sulu Archipelago
Sulu Archipelago
The Sulu Archipelago is a chain of islands in the southwestern Philippines. This archipelago is considered to be part of the Moroland by the local rebel independence movement. This island group forms the northern limit of the Celebes Sea....

, Palawan
Palawan
Palawan is an island province of the Philippines located in the MIMAROPA region or Region 4. Its capital is Puerto Princesa City, and it is the largest province in the country in terms of total area of jurisdiction. The islands of Palawan stretch from Mindoro in the northeast to Borneo in the...

, Basilan
Basilan
The Province of Basilan is an island province of the Philippines within the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao . Basilan is the largest and northernmost of the major islands of the Sulu Archipelago and is located just off the southern coast of Zamboanga Peninsula...

 and other neighbouring islands.
the Moro National Liberation Front
Moro National Liberation Front
The Moro National Liberation Front is a political organization that was founded by Nur Misuari in 1969. The MNLF struggles against the Philippine Government to achieve independence of the Bangsamoro Land...

 (MNLF) is a rebel organization formed in the 1960s following the Jabidah massacre
Jabidah massacre
The Jabidah massacre, also known as the Corregidor massacre, refers to an incident in which members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines massacred a number of Moro Muslim recruits under their supervision. Sources differ regarding the details, with the number of victims ranging from 14 to 68, and...

 to achieve greater Bangsamoro
Bangsamoro
The term Bangsamoro refers to a people who are natives or original inhabitants of the island of Mindanao and its adjacent islands in the Philippines, including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or colonization...

 autonomy in the southern Philippines.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) (Arabic: جبهة تحرير مورو الإسلامية) is an Islamist  group located in the southern Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

. It is one of two Islamic militant groups, the other being the Abu Sayyaf
Abu Sayyaf
Abu Sayyaf also known as al-Harakat al-Islamiyya is one of several military Islamist separatist groups based in and around the southern Philippines, in Bangsamoro where for almost 30 years various Muslim groups have been engaged in an insurgency for an independent province in the country...

, that are fighting against Government of the Philippines. These groups are most active in the Bangsamoro
Bangsamoro
The term Bangsamoro refers to a people who are natives or original inhabitants of the island of Mindanao and its adjacent islands in the Philippines, including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or colonization...

region of Mindanao
Mindanao
Mindanao is the second largest and easternmost island in the Philippines. It is also the name of one of the three island groups in the country, which consists of the island of Mindanao and smaller surrounding islands. The other two are Luzon and the Visayas. The island of Mindanao is called The...

, the Sulu Archipelago
Sulu Archipelago
The Sulu Archipelago is a chain of islands in the southwestern Philippines. This archipelago is considered to be part of the Moroland by the local rebel independence movement. This island group forms the northern limit of the Celebes Sea....

, Palawan
Palawan
Palawan is an island province of the Philippines located in the MIMAROPA region or Region 4. Its capital is Puerto Princesa City, and it is the largest province in the country in terms of total area of jurisdiction. The islands of Palawan stretch from Mindoro in the northeast to Borneo in the...

, Basilan
Basilan
The Province of Basilan is an island province of the Philippines within the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao . Basilan is the largest and northernmost of the major islands of the Sulu Archipelago and is located just off the southern coast of Zamboanga Peninsula...

 and other neighbouring islands.

History

the Moro National Liberation Front
Moro National Liberation Front
The Moro National Liberation Front is a political organization that was founded by Nur Misuari in 1969. The MNLF struggles against the Philippine Government to achieve independence of the Bangsamoro Land...

 (MNLF) is a rebel organization formed in the 1960s following the Jabidah massacre
Jabidah massacre
The Jabidah massacre, also known as the Corregidor massacre, refers to an incident in which members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines massacred a number of Moro Muslim recruits under their supervision. Sources differ regarding the details, with the number of victims ranging from 14 to 68, and...

 to achieve greater Bangsamoro
Bangsamoro
The term Bangsamoro refers to a people who are natives or original inhabitants of the island of Mindanao and its adjacent islands in the Philippines, including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or colonization...

 autonomy in the southern Philippines. The MNLF took part in terrorist attacks and assassinations to achieve their goals. The government in Manila sent troops into the southern Philippines to control the insurgency. In 1976, Libyan politician Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

 brokered a negotiation between the Philippine government and MNLF Leader Nur Misuari
Nur Misuari
Nur Misuari is a moro politician and former leader of the Moro National Liberation Front. He completed his education through academic scholarships at the University of the Philippines and became a student activist...

 which led to the signing of the MNLF-GRPH Tripoli Agreement of 1976 wherein the MNLF accepted the Philippine government's offer of semi-autonomy of the regions in dispute.

The signing of this agreement brought about a serious rift in MNLF leadership, leading to the formation of a breakaway group in 1977 by Hashim Salamat and 57 MNLF officers. The group was initially known as "The New Leadership". Misuari expelled Salamat in December 1977, after which Salamat moved his new organization first to Cairo Egypt and then, in 1980, to Lahore, Pakistan, where it engaged in diplomatic activities. This organization was formally established in 1984 as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Muammar Gaddafi became a longstanding supporter of the MILF after its emergence.

In January 1987, the MNLF accepted the Philippine government's offer of semi-autonomy of the regions in dispute, subsequently leading to the establishment of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The MILF, however, refused to accept this offer and continued their insurgency operations. A general cessation of hostilities between the government in Manila and the MILF was signed in July 1997 but this agreement was abolished in 2000 by the Philippine Army under the administration of Philippine President Joseph Estrada
Joseph Estrada
Joseph "Erap" Ejercito Estrada was the 13th President of the Philippines, serving from 1998 until 2001. Estrada was the first person in the Post-EDSA era to be elected both to the presidency and vice-presidency.Estrada gained popularity as a film actor, playing the lead role in over 100 films in...

. In response, the MILF declared a jihad
Jihad
Jihad , an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād translates as a noun meaning "struggle". Jihad appears 41 times in the Quran and frequently in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of God ". A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid; the plural is...

 (strived and struggled) against the government, its citizens and supporters. Under President Gloria Arroyo, the government entered into a cease-fire agreement with the MILF and resumed peace talks.

Despite peace negotiations and the cease-fire agreement, the MILF attacked government troops in Maguindanao resulting in at least twenty-three deaths in January 2005. The combined armies of the MILF and Abu Sayyaf were involved in days of fighting which necessitated government troops using heavy artillery to engage rebel forces.

The bombing incident in Davao
Davao
Davao refers to several closely related places in Mindanao in the Philippines. The term is used most often to refer to the city.*Davao Region, an administrative region*Davao del Norte province*Davao del Sur province*Davao Oriental province...

 airport in 2003 which the Philippine government blamed on MILF members, raised speculation that the peace negotiations might be ineffectual in bringing peace to Mindanao if the MILF is unable to control its operatives. The MILF denies ties with terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah
Jemaah Islamiyah
Jemaah Islamiah , is a Southeast Asian militant Islamic organization dedicated to the establishment of a Daulah Islamiyah in Southeast Asia incorporating Indonesia, Malaysia, the southern Philippines, Singapore and Brunei...

, although Jemaah Islamiyah is considered to have provided them with training facilities in areas they control. The MILF also continues to deny connections with Al-Qaeda, though it has admitted to sending around 600 volunteers to Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and that Osama Bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

 sent money to the Philippines, though the group denies directly receiving any payment.

From June 28 to July 6, 2006, conflict between the MILF and armed civilian volunteers under Maguindanao Province governor Andal Ampatuan who were supported by the Philippine Army
Philippine Army
The Philippine Army is the ground arm of the Armed Forces of the Philippines . Its official name in Tagalog is Hukbong Katihan ng Pilipinas. On July 23, 2010, President Benigno Aquino III appointed Maj. Gen...

 had been reported. The fighting began after governor Ampatuan blamed the MILF for a June 23 bomb attack on his motorcade, which killed five in his entourage. The MILF denied responsibility, but Ampatuan sent police and civilian volunteers to arrest MILF members connected to the attack. Four thousand families were reported displaced by the fighting that followed, which was ended by a cease-fire agreement signed on July 10 and July 11.

Basilan beheading incident

In March 2007, the Philippine government offered to recognize the right of self-determination for the Moro people which it had never done in three decades of conflict.
However on July 12, 2007, Islamic militants in Basilan in the southern Philippines killed 14 marines, beheading 11 of them, while 9 other marines were wounded and about 4 rebels were killed. The fighting took place as the marines were searching for kidnapped Italian priest, Giancarlo Bossi on June 10, 2007. A MILF soldier confirmed that some of its members had been involved in gun battles, despite the MILF peace treaty with the Philippine government. Mohagher Iqbal, the chief negotiator for the MILF, denied that it was responsible for the beheadings and the priest's abduction. On July 19, 2007, despite no ransom being paid, Giancarlo Bossi, who was kidnapped on June 10 in Zamboanga Sibugay province, was freed. Philippine authorities described his kidnappers as members of the Abu Sayyaf. Government authorities blamed a renegade commander of the MILF for Bossi's kidnapping, but it denied any involvement.

According to the provincial administrator of Basilan, more than 900 families have been displaced as a result of the deployment of soldiers in Basilan in response to the beheading of 11 soldiers of the Philippine Marines who were killed in an encounter with MILF in Al-Barkah town. While the MILF owned their responsibility over the death of the 14 soldiers of the Philippine Marines. They describe this as a warning for trespassing in their territory in Basilan
Basilan
The Province of Basilan is an island province of the Philippines within the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao . Basilan is the largest and northernmost of the major islands of the Sulu Archipelago and is located just off the southern coast of Zamboanga Peninsula...

. In previous agreements, the two groups have negotiated about respecting MILF camps and presence to avoid conflicts in these areas, an agreement that is prone to violation.

On August 4, 2008, the Supreme Court of the Philippines
Supreme Court of the Philippines
The Supreme Court of the Philippines is the Philippines' highest judicial court, as well as the court of last resort. The court consists of 14 Associate Justices and 1 Chief Justice...

 issued a temporary restraining order, preventing the Government and the MILF from officially signing the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, which would conclude all dispute and begin formal talks that would lead to the drafting and eventual signing of a Final Comprehensive Compact between the two groups. The Court accepted motions by the southern provincial governments that object to the extended boundaries for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is the region, located in the Mindanao island group of the Philippines, that is composed of predominantly Muslim provinces, namely: Basilan , Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. It is the only region that has its own government...

 envisioned in the peace deal. The MOA-AD would have allowed the Moro people gained control of the region under the concept of human rights with the right to establish a police force and to control natural resources.

The MOA-AD was initialed by former governor and peace panel chair Rodolfo García and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon and MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal on July 27 in Malaysia. It was scheduled for formal signing on August 5, but the Supreme Court issued no negotiation preventing the executive department from signing the agreement. The MOA-AD is the last of several agenda items under the 2001 agreement of the GRP-MILF. after security and relief and rehabilitation, prior to the discussion on the political settlement.

The Young Moro Professionals Network (YMPN) appealed to the public not to be afraid of the MOA-AD and to "open your hearts to the Moro grievance." The YMPN said in a statement dated August 21:
"In these times of hardship, we hold hands as one, with our Christian and Islamic neighbours, in the name of peace, acceptance and justice. We are committed to a democratic and peaceful resolution of the conflict. Do not be afraid of the MOA-AD. To the national public, open your hearts to the Moro grievance."


Over the next month, several MILF commanders were tagged by government officials as having initiated an offensive campaign. This was responded by the Armed Forces of the Philippines
Armed Forces of the Philippines
The Armed Forces of the Philippines is composed of the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force...

, which immediately deployed ten battalions composed of a total of 6,000 soldiers into Mindanao under the command of Lt. Gen. Cardozo Luna. The violence displaced over 600,000 people and left about 300 dead.

On October 14, 2008, the Court, conducted a series of divided votes declared "contrary to law and the Constitution" the MOA-AD of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and Moro Islamic Liberation Front Tripoli Agreement
Tripoli Agreement
The Tripoli Agreement was signed on February 8, 2006, by Chadian President Idriss Déby, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, effectively ending the Chadian-Sudanese conflict that has devastated border towns in eastern Chad and the Darfur region of western...

 of Peace on 2001. The document of Conchita Carpio-Morales
Conchita Carpio-Morales
Conchita Carpio-Morales is the newly appointed and current Ombudsman of the Philippines. She was previously an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines....

 ruled: "In sum, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process committed grave abuse of discretion when he failed to carry out the pertinent consultation process. The furtive process by which the MOA-AD was designed and crafted runs contrary to and in excess of the legal authority and amounts to a whimsical, capricious, oppressive, arbitrary and despotic exercise thereof. It illustrates a gross evasion of positive duty and a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined."

Civil society organizations such as Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society
Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society
Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, almost always referred to by its abbreviation CBCS, is the largest umbrella civil society organization composed of 168 Moro non-governmental organizations and peoples organizations in Mindanao, Philippines.-Human Rights:In October 2007, the CBCS was one of...

had submitted a Motion for Reconsideration. However, the Supreme Court affirmed its October 14 ruling that declared unconstitutional the initialed MOA-AD between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on November 21, 2008.

MILF soldiers offered to help free the Irish priest father Michael Sinott, who was kidnapped in the Philippines on October 14, 2009 and sought permission to deploy about 100 of its soldiers in the area where Sinnott is believed to be held. However it was turned down by the Philippine government.

On September 23, 2010, Mohagher Iqbal said that the MILF will pursue for a substate likened to a U.S. State instead of independence from the Philippines. The Muslim substate will not exercise power over national defense, foreign affairs, currency and coinage, and postal services, which the central government exercises. Igbal further added that the substate will not have its own armed forces but instead will have troops for internal security.

External links

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