GPH, MILF implementing panels await EO on Bangsamoro Transition Commission

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DAVAO CITY (Mindanews / 15  October) – The peace implementing panels of the government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are awaiting the signing of the Executive Order on the creation of the 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that would draft the law for the Bangsamoro, the new autonomous political entity that would replace the 26-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

GPH panel chair Irene Santiago told MindNews the EO “has been submitted to the Executive Secretary’s office and we hope that it will be ready for the President’s signature soon after all legal processes have been complied with.”

Peace Implementing panel chairs Irene Santiago of the GPH and Mohagher Iqbal of the MILF show reporters their signed Joint Statement, with Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza. MindaNews photo by Carolyn O. Arguillas
Peace Implementing panel chairs Irene Santiago of the GPH and Mohagher Iqbal of the MILF show reporters their signed Joint Statement on August 14, 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, with Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza. MindaNews photo by Carolyn O. Arguillas

The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed four years ago today – on October 15, 2012 — provides for the creation of an all-Moro, MILF-led 15-member BTC tasked to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). Of the 15, seven will be selected by the government, eight, including the chair, shall be selected by the MILF.

The FAB is part of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that the government and MILF signed on March 27, 2014.

The parties agreed during their meeting in Kuala Lumpur on August 13 and 14, their first under the Duterte administration, to increase the number of members from 15 to 21, 10 from the government side, 11 from the MILF.

The FAB provides that the BTC is to be created through an EO “and supported by congressional resolutions.”

In their “peace and development roadmap,” both parties are eyeing July 2017 as the target date for submission of the draft law. Between now and July 2017, there are only nine months left within which to draft the law if the target for submission is to be met.

The FAB lists the functions of the BTC as follows: to work on the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law with provisions consistent with all agreements entered and that may be entered into by the Parties; to work on proposals to amend the Philippine Constitution for the purpose of accommodating and entrenching in the constitution the agreements of the Parties whenever necessary without derogating from any prior peace agreements; and to coordinate whenever necessary development programs in Bangsamoro communities in conjunction with the MILF Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) and other agencies.

ARMM abolished; BTA takes over

The FAB provides that the ARMM is deemed abolished upon the promulgation and ratification of the BBL. The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) then takes over until the election and assumption of the members of the Bangsamoro legislative assembly and the formation of the Bangsamoro government.

The ministerial form and Cabinet system of government shall commence once the BTA is in place.

Then President Benigno Simeon Aquino III issued the EO on the BTC in December 2012. The BTC members were named in February, work started in April and the draft law was submitted to Malcanang on April 22, 2014. The Office of the President reviewed the draft and returned it to the MILF which rejected the proposed revised draft for allegedly rendering the future Bangsamoro less than the ARMM it was supposed to replace.

The FAB provides that the BBL submitted by the BTC “shall be certified as an urgent bill by the President.”

Congress adjourned in early February this year without passing the BBL.

Santiago said that after the meeting in KL, the panels have met twice – in late August in Davao City and in late September in Manila. They will meet again on October 24 to 25 in Davao.

“We discussed the contents of the EO on the BTC at the Waterfront meeting in late August. And it went through some revisions after that meeting,” she said.

Santiago also said that this week, three of its panel members “have been in Cotabato meeting with our MILF counterparts on the Mindanao Trust Fund, TOR of the Implementing Panels, ways forward with the Normalization track”

MILF peace implementing panel chair told MindaNews that they “finalized the drarft EO” during the meeting in Manila.

“It is in the GPH court now and we, too, are waiting,” he said, adding that, in the meantime, “the various teams created by the panels are meeting to discuss various issues such as normalization trust fund, TOR (terms of reference) of the implementing panels, political detainees and amnesty, civilian protection component of the IMT (International Monitoring Team), and other urgent businesses.

MNLF

TPresident Duterte has repeatedly said he would meet with his friend, Nur Misuari, founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) with whom the government signed the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.
The MNLF has repeatedly said the 1996 agreement has not been fully implemented.

But the effects of the warrant of arrest issued against Misuari have yet to be suspended. Misuari is still classified as a fugitive. He has a pending warrant for his arrest along with 59 others on charges of rebellion and violation of Republic Act 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and other Crimes against Humanity following the September 2013 stand-off in Zamboanga City between his followers and government troops that left 104 persons dead, 192 injured and 110,000 of its 807,000 population displaced.

On October 4, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza told MindaNews that they are “still awaiting outcomes on the legal status of Misuari which, he said, the Justice Department is now addressing.”

A faction of the MNLF under Muslimin Sema of Maguindanao has agreed to be part of the BTC that would draft the new Bangsamoro law. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

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