Duterte to choose 10 gov’t nominees for BTC; MILF finalizes list of 11

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 06 Nov) –  The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) is submitting to President Rodrigo Duterte “more than 10 names” for the 10 government nominees that he will appoint to the 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that will draft the Bangsamoro law, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said Saturday.

Dureza told reporters attending a training-workshop on Reporting the Peace Process that he is submitting more than 10 names  to the President to give him a “latitude of choice.”

The President will sign the Executive Order creating the BTC in Malacanang on Monday, November 7, in the presence of  Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and members of the government’s five-member peace implementing panel chaired by Irene Santiago and the MILF’s five-member panel chaired by Mohagher Iqbal.

Thousands joined in the march towards the House of Representative from the Saint Peter Parish Church to call for the passing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Batasan Hills, Quezon City, May 11, 2015. MindaNews photo by Erwin Mascariñas
Thousands join the march towards the House of Representative from the Saint Peter Parish Church to call for the passing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) along Batasan Hills, Quezon City, May 11, 2015.  Congress adjourned in February 2016 without passing the law.  MindaNews photo by Erwin Mascariñas

The MILF, which will lead the BTC, is also submitting the names of its 11 nominees.

Murad told MindaNews Saturday night that they are still finalizing their list and that they were still deciding on who they will recommend to chair the BTC but “separate na sa panel chair.” 

Under the Aquino administration, Iqbal, the chair of the MILF peace panel then, also chaired the then 15-member BTC.  Iqbal now chairs the MILF’s peace implementing panel.

Government nominees

Dureza gave a sneak preview of  the composition of the 10 government nominees to the BTC: three members from the Moro National Liberation Front under Muslimin Sema, one from the Sultanates, representatives from the Indigenous Peoples and settlers living in the Bangsamoro area, one from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and a representative from the youth sector.

Dureza said the MNLF faction under founding chair Nur Misuari will not participate in the BTC but will have a separate five-member panel (see other story) that will deal with the government panel chaired by Santiago.

Santiago’s panel is dealing separately with the MILF and the MNLF faction under Misuari.   

Roadmap

The Bangsamoro peace roadmap under the Duterte administration initially envisioned a BTC that will include the MNLF factions and other sectors so that the law that will be drafted will be a convergence of the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed in 2014 by government and the MILF and the unimplemented provisions of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) between government and the MNLF.

As it is turning out, instead of one track under the Duterte administration, it will still be two tracks as in previous administrations with the GPH-MILF track going through the BTC in drafting the law, and the GPH-MNLF-Misuari track working for the “amendment/expansion/enhancement” of RA 9054, the law that amended RA 6734, the Organic Act that created the ARMM.

The Misuari panel will work on the amendment of RA 9054 to “enhance” autonomy under the ARMM while the GPH-MILF track (with the MNLF Sema faction in it), will work on the drafting of a Bangsamoro law that would pave the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that will replace the ARMM.  

The MNLF had boycotted the plebiscite to ratify RA 9054 claiming it did not adhere to the 1996 peace agreement and rendered the supposed expanded ARMM less autonomous than the ARMM before the peace agreement.

The MILF objected to Congress’ junking of its draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by the House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL’s and the Senate Committee on Local Governments’ in favor of two versions of a similarly titled “Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region” (BLBAR).

The MILF said the BLBAR was a watered down version of the BBL and that it envisioned a Bangsamoro that was going to be “less autonomous than the ARMM” it sought to replace.

In the end,  even the BLBAR failed to pass in the House and the Senate. 

Dureza told MindaNews in a text message Thursday evening  that the GPH-MILF and GPH-MNLF-Misuari tracks “will somehow converge in Congress without converging in the process.”

Congress will then consolidate the bills to come up with the final draft of the Bangsamoro law.  

As these two tracks are moving, Congress will also convene as a constituent assembly to amend the Constitution to push for the shift to a federal form of government.  

Inclusivity

Dureza said inclusivity in the Bangsamoro peace process is “very important.”

“That means when we come out eventually with a new law that will replace the ARMM, we hope that it should come from an agreement that was signed in 1996 .. with (the) MNLF, it will also draw provisions of the CAB with the MILF, there are provisions in the ARMM law that can be also important there and also pertinent provisions of the IPRA (Indigenous Peoples Rights Act) so that eventually yung ipapasa ng kongreso kung may ipapasa man to entrench and establish a new government unit for the Bangsamoro, parang kalahok ang lahat at hindi MILF, MNLF lang.”

 

The 15-member BTC under the Aquino administration had, among its members, MILF peace panel members, four women (Tausug and Maguindanaon lawyers who were members of the government and MILF peace panels, respectively;  IP representative from Upi, Maguindano; civil society representative from Sulu); an IP representative nominated by the MILF and a setter from Basilan whom ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman described as a “Christian representative”  to the Commission.  (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

 

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