DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 February) – The head of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) is now, finally, a member of the government (GPH) peace panel negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
President Aquino last week named NCMF Secretary Mehol Sadain to the GPH peace panel, to fill the post vacated by Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer who was named chair in early December. Ferrer took over from former UP College of Law dean Marvic Leonen, GPH peace panel chair from July 15, 2010, who was appointed Supreme Court Associate Justice on the third week of November.
Sadain is the third Mindanawon member in the panel, in addition to former Agriculture Secretary Senen Bacani and Bai Yasmin Busra-Lao, Presidential Assistant for Muslim Concerns. A fourth Mindanawon, Dr. Hamid Barra, has resigned to return to the academe.
Sadain, who had previously served as commissioner of the Commission on Elections, was named NCMF Secretary and Executive Director on April 13, 2012.
By law, the NCMF head or his/her representative should be a member of the GPH peace panel.
RA 997, which created the NCMF in December 2009, provides that the NCMF Secretary “or his/her duly designated representative shall sit as a regular member of the government’s peace panel negotiating peace with the Muslim Filipino groups or individuals.”
The Aquino administration did not appoint then NCMF Secretary Bai Omera Dianalan-Lucma, claiming she was a midnight appointee of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Invoking Executive Order no. 2, which revoked the “midnight appointme. nts” issued by Arroyo, President Aquino appointed Dr. Hamid Barra as NCMF Secretary on September 13, 2010. Lucman went to the Supreme Court to seek redress. The high court issued a status quo ante (as it was before EO 2).
Lucman remains a Commissioner until her four-year term ends in March 2014.
The GPH and MILF peace panels signed on October 15, 2012 the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and are still working on the four Annexes that would complete the comprehensive peace pact: Annexes on Power-Sharing, Wealth-Sharing, Normalization and on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities.
The two panels were supposed to have completed these by yearend 2012. In their last meeting two weeks ago in Kuala Lumpur, not one of the Annexes was signed during the five-day talks but they issued a Joint Statement claiming the talks “successfully ended” with both parties “achieving a milestone” with the signing of the Terms of Reference for the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT), the body that will “review, assess, evaluate and monitor the implementation of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its Annexes.”
The panels will identify the members of the TPMT “within one month,” the Joint Statement said.
Sadain will be joining the next round of talks in Kuala Lumpur this month.
Born in Jolo, Sulu, Sadain finished his Bachelor of Arts in Islamic Studies from the Institute of Islamic Studies at the University of the Philippines in 1978, studied Law in UP and ranked 16th in UP Law’s Class 1986.
He taught Law subjects at the University of the Philippines College of Law. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)