DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 06 Sept) – Representatives from the Philippine government (GPH), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will meet in Manila on Sept. 7 and 8 to set the agenda for next month’s Tripartite Review on the implementation of the 19-year old Final Peace Agreement (FPA).
Participants to the meeting include representatives of the various factions of the MNLF, the government and the OIC, including Sayed El-Masry, OIC Special Envoy for Peace in the Southern Philippines (PCSP).
Lawyer Randolph Parcasio, who will head the delegation of the MNLF under Nur Misuari in the meeting, told MindaNews Sunday that they will discuss the agenda of the “forthcoming ministerial level tripartite meeting,” which he said includes the implementation of the Bangsamoro Development Assistance Fund (BDAF) and Tripartite Implementation Monitoring Committee (TIMC); and the implementation of the Co-management of Strategic Minerals.”
Parcasio said they would also discuss the resolution of the last three remaining issues in the Tripartite Review that began in late 2007 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, current issues and concerns in the joining and integration of MNLF Forces into the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines; and the venue and date of the forthcoming Ministerial Level Tripartite Review Meeting. Earlier he told MindaNews the meeting in Jeddah might be held next month.
The government and MNLF signed the FPA on September 2, 1996 providing for, among others, the strengthening of and expansion of the then four-province Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) – Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-tawi – and the integration of MNLF combatants into the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.
In the 2001 plebiscite, Basilan and Marawi City voted for inclusion in the ARMM.
Last Tuesday, Sept. 1, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles met with representatives of the OIC’s Peace Committee of the Southern Philippines (PCSP) at the Department of Foreign Affairs office in Pasay City, where she reiterated her call for the completion of the Tripartite Review.
The 11-member PCSP was set up in 2006, on the 10th anniversary of the FPA, but the first meeting was held in Jeddah only in November 2007.
The PCSP is composed of Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Brunei Darussalam, Turkey, Pakistan, Libya, Senegal, Somalia, and Bangladesh.
In a press release dispatched by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) on September 3, Deles said the Philippine government is “fully committed to an inclusive and comprehensive approach on the quest for a just and lasting peace and development in Mindanao,” as she challenged the OIC to “complete the review, otherwise, they will stay with the review process and will not implement anything.”
She also expressed hope that the review process started in 2007 be put to a close before the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
“If we can accomplish the review process, we can proceed to the implementation of agreements achieved in the review through the mechanisms under the single framework which is the Bangsamoro and the backbone of the single framework is the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL),” Deles was quoted as saying in the OPAPP press release.
The BBL is the law that will entrench the Bangsamoro, the new autonomous political entity under a parliamentary system of government that the GPH and MILF peace panels had agreed upon in the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
She assured the OIC that the “government, especially the leadership of both chambers of Congress, is fully committed (to) its passage.”
According to the press release, “Deles explained that the engagement of the government and the MNLF will continue through the 42 consensus points now included in the BBL, the participation of MNLF in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) and Bangsamoro Government to be established and the inclusion of MNLF economic agenda in the Bangsamoro Development Plan.”
Parcasio said the Tripartite Review for the Implementation of the 1996 peace pact “yielded some positive results,” which he listed as: agreement on the establishment of the BDAF “to address the socio-economic issues and needs of the Bangsamoro People;” agreement to establish the TIMC “which will be in charge of ensuring implementation of agreements reached during the tripartite review;” agreement on the co-management of strategic minerals where “the President of the Philippines and the ARMM will initially implement this by convening the Department of Energy and the ARMM Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the implementation of the mechanism of co-management of strategic minerals;” and agreement on the 46 Consensus Points to amend RA 9054.”
Parcasio said that the government has been saying that the 42 consensus points had been included in the proposed BBL under the GPH-MILF peace process but “there was never any consultation with the MNLF.”
“It is proper the GPH will formally present to the Tripartite Review its position on this issue,” he said.
“On the last remaining issues of a) territory/plebiscite, b) definition and sharing of strategic minerals and c) transitional mechanism/provisional government, the Tripartite Review must chart the road map of resolving the issues,” Parcasio said.
Bangsamoro Coordination Forum
He acknowledged that while “it is highly possible that in the remaining nine months of the present administration of President Benigno Aquino III the issues will remain unresolved given the complications created by the other peace process—MILF-GPH-Malaysia Peace Track, the matter should not be closed because it will likely give way to unproductive responses on the ground.”
But he added that the parties “may provide a way by which the unresolved issues will be addressed by succeeding Philippine administration.”
He said the joining and integration of the MNLF forces into the military and police “are confronted with some issues” and the Tripartite Review “must provide a channel by which these issues could be addressed and ventilated to avoid misunderstanding.”
Attending the Tripartite meeting in Manila are also represntatives of the MNLF under Muslimin Sema and representatives of other MNLF factions.
The OIC has brought the various factions of the MNLF and the MILF into the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) and in April this year, OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani met separately with leaders of the MNLF and MILF on April 18, Day 1 of his visit in Davao City, hosted a seaside dinner for both and the next day met them jointly to discuss, through the BCF, on how best to move forward in harmonizing the tracks of the peace agreements they signed separately with the Philippine government.
“We pushed for the reviving, reinvigorating of the Forum. We think it provides an excellent stage for all sides to communicate to express their views,” Madani told MindaNews after the four-hour closed door meeting with the two Fronts at the Seda Abreeza hotel here on April 19.
The MNLF and MILF representatives in the BCF met again in Kuwait in late May this year at the sidelines of the 42nd OIC Conference of Foreign Ministers. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)