PEACETALK: There must be a final closure to this cycle of conflict in Mindanao

(This piece was delivered by Moro Islamic Liberation Front chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim at the August 13, 2016 launch of the implementation phase of the GPH-MILF peace process under the Duterte Administration. Venue of the launch was the Unity Room 2 of the Palace of the Golden Horses Hotel in Kuala Lumpur).

I am here with you today, filled with hope and enthusiasm for the formal launch of the engagement on the Bangsamoro peace process under the new administration of the government of the Philippines (GPH). The gathering of these distinguished personalities who have extensive knowledge, deep understanding and vast experience on the peace process signifies that the continuity of this exercise is something to look forward to.

I would like to thank His Excellency Dato Tengku Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed, the Facilitator of the GPH-MILF Peace Process for inviting me to this historic affair. Indeed it is a great honor (to be) with you this blessed morning today.

As you know, the Bangsamoro peace process, has, time and again, undergone adjustments over the 17 long years of negotiations between the Government of the Phlippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). These adjustments have always been for the better. By its very nature, negotiation is full of dynamism.

Building from the gains of previous agreements entered into by the Philippine government and the Bangsamoro people in the past, the MILF and the GPH continued to pursue a comprehensive solution to the Bangsamoro Question and envisioned an end to the conflict-stricken days in the Bangsamoro homeland. There must be a final closure to this cycle of conflict in Mindanao. The time to do it is now, not later.

On October 15, 2012, the parties signed the historical Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) which brought hope and enlightenment to the people who patiently followed the peace process. The Annexes of the FAB were signed: the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) was created; the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was concluded on March 27, 2014; the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was crafted and submitted to Congress, and so the story goes.

In all of those years, we reached remarkable milestones despite difficult obstacles. And the fact that we are here today, facing each other once again, is a testament to how significant the engagement on the Bangsamoro peace process is, and that all of our previous engagements in the past 17 years are not in vain.

With the strong political will of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to resolve the Bangsamoro Question, we find ourselves partnering again to bring this exercise to a successful conclusion. Allow me now to express my profound gratitude to President Duterte and his administration and his officials in the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) headed by Secretary Jesus Dureza for reaffirming to continue the Bangsamoro peace process. This is the only reasonable and viable pathway that can bring progress, development, and lasting peace to our country, the Philippines, and in particular, Mindanao.

What we are set to grapple with henceforth in the implementation phase is both a challenge and an opportunity. It would give us, the MILF, an avenue to build a new solidified relationship with the new administration and among our constituents as well. This crucial phase of implementation shall ultimately decide the success of the negotiated agreements and shall likewise manifest the genuine willingness of the parties to put an end to conflict in the region.

As we then focus on post-accord implementation, we acknowledge that implementation management should start with drawing up a road map that will guide implementation practices in the future. Several major factors, on the other hand, including international community involvement and the need for close coordination among implementing agencies must also be taken into account to avoid failures in the implementation of the agreement. The roles of the different infrastructure of the peace process are truly important to be sustained, strengthened and may sometimes be attuned to make them more effective in order to ensure the success of the implementation process.

The parties’ willingness to undertake specified actions can be critical for the ultimate success of the peace deal. They must adhere to the provisions of the agreements, which are intended to be binding and effective. Implementation efforts must be joint and collaborative in nature, complete with constant communication reliable monitoring and reporting and responsive dispute resolution. It is also important to always be open to the public in terms of what we envisage at the end of the implementation process.

As we continue the journey, we are grateful for the presence of our friends from the international community who have tirelessly extended their support and assistance to the Bangsamoro peace process. Thank you to the members of the International Community, UN agencies, International and Local NGO’s, Civil (Society) and other actors for your unwavering support for the advancement of the peace process. We ask you continued involvement to ensure that the Bangsamoro peace process will prosper in this administration.

At this juncture, let me formally introduce the Implementation Peace Panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to be led by Mohagher Iqbal as Chairman, with Professor Abhoud Syed Lingga, Abdullah Camlian, Said Shiek and Melanio Ulama as members.

Our heartfelt gratitude is given to the Government of Malaysia under the Leadership of His Excellency Datuk Seri Najib Tun Radjzak for upholding its felicitation and support to the peace process. May Allah continue to bless and guide His Excellency and government always.

Finally, Let me, once again, call on everyone to continue to join hands in securing the ever-elusive peace in Mindanao by supporting and strengthening the advocacy for the successf oth e the Bangsamoro peace process. Together, we can all hope that this gathering is the start of something good. The future is full of good promises and opportunities. We must not fail in this great undertaking, Insha Allah.

Thank you, Good Morning and Wassalaum Alaykum.