GPH, MILF to meet in KL on August 13-14; Santiago heads GPH panel

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 03 August) – The 10-member government (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Implementing Team will meet in Kuala Lumpur on August 13 and 14 to begin work on the implementation of the Bangsamoro peace roadmap, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said.

Dureza told MindaNews that he will head the government delegation in the first formal meeting between the government and MILF under the Duterte administration.

He and MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim agreed during the former’s visit to the MILF’s Camp Darapanan on July 21 that there will be no more negotiating panels because the peace process is now on its implementation phase. Instead, there will be a 10-member Joint Implementing Team, five from the government and five from the MILF.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Sec. Jesus Dureza meets with Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim on Thursday to discuss the implementation phase of the peace process at the MILF's headquarters in Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. MindaNews photo by Keith Bacongco
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Sec. Jesus Dureza meets with Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim on July 21, 2016 in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao to discuss the implementation phase of the peace process. MindaNews photo by KEITH BACONGCO

The five-member government panel in the Joint Implementing Team will be chaired by Irene “Inday” Santiago of the Mindanao Commission on Women, Inc. and a consultant at the Offic of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

Santiago was a member of Dureza’s panel when he was the government’s chief negotiator from 2001 to 2003. Dureza’s counterpart then was Murad, who was then MILF Vice Chair for Military Affairs and chief of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces.

Dureza told MindaNews on July 21 that OPAPP Undersecretary Diosita “Jojo” Andot  would head the government side. But Dureza told MindaNews Wednesday evening that Andot has her hands full with other tasks in OPAPP so she will, instead, be a member of Santiago’s panel, along with former OPAPP Undersecretary Nabil Tan, Brig. Gen. Dickson Hermoso who had earlier worked as head of the secretariat of the GPH peace panel’s Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and chief of the Peace Process Office of  the Philippines Army; and Rolando Asuncion, who had earlier worked at OPAPP when Dureza first headed the office fom 2005 to 2007.

Mohagher Iqbal, MILF peace panel chair since 2003 told MindaNews they are still finalizing the composition of the panel in the joint implementing body.

Malaysia has been facilitating the peace process between the government and MILF since 2001.

MindaNews asked if the international teams in the GPH-MILF peace process will also be in Kuala Lumpur. “We are inviting all players,” Dureza replied.

The teams include the International Monitoring Team, International Contact Group composed of foreign governments and international NGOs, Third Party Monitoring Team, Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission, and the Independent Decommissioning Body.

The GPH and MILF signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) on March 27, 2014, after 17 years of peace negotiations.

Under the Aquino administration’s peace roadmap, the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which was supposed to have paved the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), was supposed to have been passed and ratified to allow for a transition period until the first set of officials of the Bangsamoro would have been elected on May 9, 2016.

Congress under the Aquino adminsitration, however, adjourned without passing the BBL.

President Rodrigo Duterte, the country’s 16th President and first Mindanawon to lead the nation, has repeatedly said during the election campaign and even as President, that the historical injustices against the Bangsamoro should be corrected.

Duterte on July 18 approved the peace roadmap presented by Dureza. Under this roadmap, work on the new proposed Bangsamoro law “will be done simultaneous with the moves to shift to a federal set-up, the latter expected to come later under the planned timeline.”

The 15-member, MILF-led Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which will be reconstituted to allow for a more inclusive representation from among the seven nominees of the government, will be tasked to “draft anew a more inclusive proposed enabling law that will be filed with Congress” in lieu of the BBL that the previous Congress failed to pass. The BBL will also propose amendments to the Constitution.

The Joint Implementing Team will discuss the peace roadmap in accordance with the 2014 CAB and in convergence with the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the Moro National Liberaiton Front, and with other sectors, for what would be a broader, more inclusive Bangsamoro Peace roadmap. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)