Event Reports

Ballots instead of bullets

MILF on track of forming own political party

In Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, political officers from the Central Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and ranking commanders from its armed wing, Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), sat down in a four-day seminar geared towards boosting the rebel group’s bid of forming its own political party.

The event brought experts and specialists to the Bangsamoro Management and Leadership Institute (BMLI) in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao province from September 16-19. They delivered inputs on national and local politics, political party building and management, and government systems with focus on parliamentary system, the targeted form of government for the envisioned Bangsamoro region in the Philippines.

The government and the MILF signed the Framework of Agreement on the Bangsamoro in a historic peace deal in October last year paving for the creation of a new autonomous political entity replacing the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The framework agreement says that the Bangsamoro shall have a ministerial form of government; hence an electoral system suitable for the new government shall be established also. The new electoral system is seen to encourage formation of “genuinely principled political parties,” a new development the MILF is keeping abreast of.

The four-day seminar introduced 42 MILF participants to the nitty-gritty of political party formation including its legal requirements, administration, and strategic and financial management.

Dr. Peter Köppinger, resident representative of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) in the Philippines also explored together with the participants the possible options for different electoral systems on the background of the situation in the future Bangsamoro Region. It will be up to the Bangsamoro Transition Commission to come to an agreement on how their parliament will be elected.

Other speakers were governance expert Prof. Edmund Tayao of the Local Government Development Foundation (LOGODEF) whose talk examined the Philippine political party system, Dr. Parido Pigkaulan of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies (IBS) who provided context on past attempts at political party building in the Muslim region, KAS’s Aaron de Leon who talked on political communications and party financing. He discussed in these two presentations the various channels and modes of communication used in communicating to members of the party and the external agencies and people outside of the party. In his second presentation “Party Financing: Membership Dues, Donations, Entrepreneurial Initiatives” he talked about various ways on how to generate revenue and income and other sources references to increase the party’s finances..

KAS’s Cristita Marie Giangan’s talk centered on administrative and fi-nancial management of a political party, initiating local party activi-ties and reaching out to sectors and civil society. Miss Giangan dis-cussed in her first presentation “Administrative and Financial Man-agement of a Political Party” some key questions, which the members of the group have to ask itself be-fore forming a political party. Her second presentation, “Initiating Lo-cal Party Work” focused on show-ing ideas of types, venues and fi-nancing these activities and how to communicate these.

Sammy Al-Mansoor, BIAF chief of staff and chairman of the MILF’s Interim Committee for the Formation of the Bangsamoro Political Party, hailed the seminar as “a first of its kind since the birth of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front”. “This only goes to show that we are now gearing towards ballots instead of bullets,” Al-Mansoor added.

Mohammad Ameen, head of secretariat of the Central Committee of the MILF, expressed gratitude to the sponsors of the seminar. He urged the participants to put into practice “what you have learned” to become “effective workers of the future Bangsamoro political party.” He said a stable political party must be in place to complement the ministerial Bangsamoro government that “will provide the needs of our people.”

For the MILF, the establishment of a political party will be a “confirmation of status from revolutionary struggle to parliamentary struggle” come 2016, the target period for the entrenchment of the Bangsamoro autonomous political entity.

This article was published on IAG's website and can be accessed here

The MILF also wrote a review of the event which it published on its website

MILF Party training