GPH, MILF panels meet where GPH, MNLF reached breakthrough in 1996

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 02 August) — The venue of the 10-day meeting of the peace panels of the government (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)

here was the venue of a crucial meeting between the peace panels of the government (then known by its initials GRP) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in June 1996 that eventually led to the signing of the “Final Peace Agreement” on September 2 that year.
The venue, Waterfront Insular Hotel, a seaside hotel along Lanang, was then named “Insular Hotel.”

The GPH and MILF peace panels are scheduled to stay here for ten days – August 1 to 10 — to work, behind closed doors, on the final text of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that President Aquino was supposed to have submitted to Congress and certified “urgent” when he delivered his State of the Nation Address on July 28 (see main story).

Whether or not the GPH and MILF peace panels can produce within the ten-day period a breakthrough agreement in the form of a final draft Bangsamoro Basic Law will depend on how soon the panels can resolve the contentious issues.

Eighteen years ago, it was in this same hotel, where the government and MNLF peace panels met for the 8th GRP-MNLF Mixed Committee meeting on June 20 to 23, 1996.

In that meeting, also attended by members of the Ministerial Committee of the Six of the Organization of Islamic Conference (now Cooperation), the panels broke a long impasse and produced what became known as the “Davao Accord,” the breakthrough agreement where the parties decided to set up, as transitional implementing mechanisms and structures, the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD) and the Consultative Assembly (CA).

These transitional bodies were supposed to have focused on intensive peace and development efforts in what would become a Special Zone of Peace and Development (SZOPAD) covering the provinces and cities enumerated in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement to pave the way for what was envisioned to be an “expanded” area of autonomy.

The Tripoli Agreement of 1976 had listed 13 provinces and nine cities therein as the “areas of autonomy.” The 1976 agreement, however, ended up with two autonomous regions instead of one, prompting protests from the MNLF, claiming the government did not implement the peace agreement in letter and spirit.

The Tripoli Agreement was inked in Tripoli, Libya on December 23, 1976 while the Philippines was under a state of martial law. Then President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law on September 21, 1972. He was ousted by a “People Power” revolt in February 1986.

The restoration of democracy in 1986 gave new hope for the Moro liberation forces. Then President Corazon Aquino, mother of incumbent President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, even met with MNLF chair Nur Misuari in September that year to re-start the peace process but no peace agreement was reached.

The Ramos administration (1992 to 1998) revived the talks. Ramos had in fact met with Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, which initially brokered the peace talks between the Philippine government and MNLF in the 1970s, during the Presidential ampaign period in 1992.

By the time the 1996 peace agreement was signed, the number of provinces in the “areas of autonomy” under the Tripoli Agreement of 1976 had risen to 14 after Sarangani was carved out of South Cotabato.

The SPCPD was to be headed by the MNLF with three deputies representing the Christians, Muslims and indigenous peoples while the CA, tasked to provide “adequate counsel” was to be composed of the governors and mayors of the “areas of autonomy.”

Contrary to perceptions, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was not a product of the peace agreement with the MNLF. It was set up in accordance with the 1987 Constitution, which provided for autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordillera..

In the November 1989 plebiscite, only four provinces in the “areas of autonomy” under the 1976 Tripoli Agreement voted for inclusion in the ARMM: Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao.

The 1996 peace pact was supposed to provide for an “expanded” area of autonomy. How to do that was the rationale behind the creation of the SPCPD and CA, hoping that by the time a plebiscite is held, the other provinces and cities listed in the “areas of autonomy” under the 1976 Tripoli Agreement would vote for inclusion in the “expanded” ARMM.

After the “Davao Accord” of June 23, 1996, the panels resumed their fourth and last formal talks in Jakarta that eventually led to the initialing of the “Final Peace Agreement” in Jakarta, Indonesia on August 30 and the formal signing of the peace agreement in Malacanang on September 2, 1996.

MNLF chair Nur Misuari was elected governor of the ARMM a week later, on September 9, after his rival candidates were asked by the Ramos administration to withdraw their candidacies. He assumed post on September 30, 1996, supposedly ending his three-year term by September 30, 1999.

Misuari would also serve as chair of the SPCPD and the CA.

The peace agreement provided for the passage of a law amending RA 6734, the Organic Act creating the ARMM, to allow for an expanded region. The amendatory law was supposed to have been passed within two years, as it was timed to have been amended before then President Ramos would bow out of office on June 30, 1998.

RA 9054, however, took so long and was passed on form the Ramos to Estrada administration, the ARMM elections in 1999 postponed several times and Misuari allowed to sit on holdover capacity each time the ARMM election was postponed.

The MNLF objected to the provisions of what would become RA 9054, claiming it was rendering the ARMM less autonomous than what RA 6734 provided.

In the 2001 plebiscite, only Basilan (except Isabela City) and Marawi City voted yes to inclusion in the “expanded” ARMM, making the four-province ARMM into a five-province, one city region. Lamitan town in Basilan would become the second city in the ARMM when it became a city in 2007.

The rest is history. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/peace-process/2014/08/02/gph-milf-panels-meet-where-gph-mnlf-reached-breakthrough-in-1996/

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  • http://www.facebook.com/OneMNLF Rltr. John R. Petalcorin

    Gaya-gaya, puto-maya. Pangalan ng MILF halos gaya ng tunog ng MNLF. Ang 1976 MNLF Tripoli Agreement, ginaya din ng MILF in 2008. Ang word na Bangsamoro namatagal nang ginagamit ng MNLF, ginaya ng MILF at binigyan ng ibang meaning. Pati ba naman venue ng 1996 MNLF FPA, ginaya? Gaya-gaya, puto-maya. It’s like wolf in sheep’s clothing. Parang DVD lang ba, pinipirata sa kuta nila.

    • Seif ul Islam

      Kelangan mo na siguro magparehab. nabubuang kana, hehe.

  • Edwin B Pedroso

    Ito ang di masayang observation ko. Sa tuwing may kasundoan with our Muslim separatist group may uusbong na naman na ibang grupo. BMA to MNLF to MILF to BIFF. Parang ang Agreement with them is a form of retirement ng matatandang warriors. Magkaroon ng bagong armas para sa sunod na grupo at kabuhayan para sa matatanda na at nang ayaw na sa gulo. Are we making a big joke and refuse to accept that life as a nation is one serious matter? Kung ang inaasam nating kapayapaan ay pag bibiro sa buhay na nasawi ng bawat sundalo at rebeldeng mandirigma sana katapusan na ito. We must put an end to this big JOKE and be a nation who has decided to exist in “Peaceful Diversity”.