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Moro fronts, Malacañang strengthen peace overtures over 'iftar'

COTABATO CITY — Leaders of two Moro fronts that have separate compacts with Malacañang and representatives of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. broke bread and dined together in separate iftar banquets where they agreed to continue pushing the Mindanao peace process forward.

Iftar is the first meal after a daylong fast from food and drinks during the Islamic Ramadhan season, which started on March 12 and may possibly end by the second week of April based on the lunar Hijrah calendar.

Representatives of the Moro National Liberation Front, led by the chairman of its central committee, Bangsamoro Regional Labor Minister Muslimin Sema, Presidential Adviser on Peace Reconciliation and Unity Carlito Galvez Jr. and other state officials exchanged pledges to nurture the dividends of the Sept. 2, 1996 government-MNLF peace accord during an iftar gathering in Barangay Bago Enged, Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao del Norte on Tuesday.

“That was a very cordial gathering, something so essential to the joint peace initiatives of the MNLF and the national government,” Sema said on Thursday.

The MNLF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, whose figurehead, Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, is an appointed chief minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, are managing the now four-year BARMM government, a product of two decades of peace talks between the government and the MILF.

The MNLF also has representatives in the 80-seat interim BARMM parliament besides those at the helm of other ministries and support agencies under Ebrahim’s office.

Galvez said he was impressed by the cordiality of Sema and other MNLF officials who treated him like a family member and not an outside guest during their iftar gathering in Camp Ebrahim Sema in Barangay Bago Enged.

“I deeply felt their commitment to keep the Mindanao peace process going and their zeal to sustain the gains of the peace agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front,” Galvez told reporters here on Thursday morning.

Galvez and his companions also dined together with MILF officials, led by Ebrahim, in a separate iftar engagement on Wednesday in Barangay Gambar in Kabuntalan, Maguindanao del