Pool of independent lawyers now assisting GPH, MILF peace panels  

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /03 August) —  A newly-formed pool of independent lawyers is assisting the peace panels of the government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the ongoing 10-day meeting here to work on a “mutually acceptable” draft Bangsmaoro Basic Law (BBL).

Chosen by both panels, the lawyers — Benedicto Bacani, Sedfrey Candelaria, Nasser Marohomsalic and Camilo “Bong” Montesa — provide advice as the panels review, provision by provision, the proposed 97-page BBL drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) along with the Malacanang-reviewed draft.

The 10-day meeting at the Waterfront Insular Hotel here started August 1.

Last month, the panels met on July 8 to 11 in Kuala Lumpur, 18 to 21 and 25 to 27 in Manila but failed to come up with a “mutually acceptable” draft.

Government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said it was the government panel that suggested they get a pool of independent lawyers (PIL) to help them, a proposal the MILF agreed to, she said. The proposal was made on July 24 and the lawyers attended the meeting in Manila on July 26.

Ferrer said the lawyers give the panels a written consolidated opinion on the issues referred to them.

Bacani, Marohomsalic and Montesa are Mindanawons. Bacani is from Cotabato City, Marohomsalic is from Ganassi, Lanao del Sur and Montesa is from Cagayan de Oro City.

Bacani and Marohomsalic have been attending the sessions since Day 1 (August 1) while Montesa arrived on Day 2.

The pool

Bacani, Executive Director of the Institute of Autonomy and Governance (IAG) in Cotabato City is former Dean of the College of Law of the Notre Dame University in the same city and founder of IAG.

Marohomsalic, National Secretary of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, is former Commissioner at the Commission on Human Rights. He was a member of the 1988 Regional Consultative Commission that drafted the Organic Act for what is now the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Montesa, principal mover at the De Bono Method Thinking, was head of the Technical Working Group of the government peace panel in talks with the MILF from 2003-2007, was advisor to the Afable, Garcia and Seguis panels, was former executive director of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, and Assistant Secretary for Peacemaking at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. Montesa also chaired the Implementation Review of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.

Candelaria, Dean of the College of Law at the Ateneo de Manila University, was chief legal consultant of the government peace panel under retired General Rodolfo Garcia.

Garcia headed the panel from June 2007 until its dissolution by the Arroyo administration on September 4, 2008, following the botched signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) on August 5, 2008, after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order a day earlier, barring Garcia from signing the MOA-AD.

Four levels of engagement

The MILF-led 15-member GPH-MILF Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), the body tasked to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law, submitted its draft to Malacanang (Office of the President) on April 22.

MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, concurrent BTC chair, told MindaNews that after the submission, there were supposed to have been four levels of engagement between the BTC and Malacanang: first between Malacnanag and the BTC Coordinating Committee composed of the heads of the standing committees and the BTC chair; second with other commissioners on call; third with BTC lawyers and the fourth between the principals – President Aquino and MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.

Iqbal said only the fourth level engagement happened. He was referring to the “15 to 20” minute meeting between the President and Murad and himself at the Sheraton Hiroshima Hotel, shortly before the President delivered his keynote address at The Consolidation for Peace for Mindanao seminar on June 24.

Aside from the peace panels and the PIL, members of the International Contact Group (ICG) the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) are also attending the 10-day meeting. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/peace-process/2014/08/03/pool-of-independent-lawyers-now-assisting-gph-milf-peace-panels/

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