GPH, MILF peace panels set date for BTC launch but who will take oath?

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 09 February) — The peace implementing panels of the government (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Wednesday agreed on a target date for the launching of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) even as the 21 members of the body that will draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) have yet to be officially named.

Under the Peace and Development Roadmap of the Duterte adminstration approved in July last year, the BTC is supposed to submit the draft to Congress by July 2017 but as of 5 p.m. Thursday,  Malacanang has not released the appointment papers that Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process last month said was signed on January 9.

The delayed release, notwithstanding, implementing panel chairs Irene Santiago (GPH) and Mohagher Iqbal (MILF) told MindaNews they are optimistic the BTC can meet the July deadline.

The government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace implementing panels led by Irene Santiago (GPH) and Mohagher Iqbal (MILF) meet at the Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City on 9 February 2017, to discuss ways forward in the implementation of various aspects of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. MindaNews photo by CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS,

Santiago said they are confident the draft law will be submitted to Congress before President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27, where he is expected to certify the bill as urgent.

Iqbal, who was MILF peace panel chair from 2003 to 2016, BTC chair from 2013 to 2016 and peace implementing panel chair since 2016 said they are “not starting from scratch.”

He told MindaNews there are existing drafts that can be made as the working draft to hasten the process of the final drafting.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim has repeatedly said the draft law must be compliant with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that the  government and MILF signed on March 27, 2014.

Iqbal also said sessions can be done more frequently than the previous BTC’s twice monthly sessions with the rest of the month spent on consultations and committee meetings. He said they can meet every day if necessary.

He said the new BTC will still have him as member but MILF 1st Vice Chair Ghazali Jaafar will chair the 21-member body composed of 11 nominees from the MILF and 10 from the government.

The previous BTC had 15 members, eight from the MILF and seven from the government.

Six of the previous BTC members representing the MILF will still be part of the new BTC, Iqbal said.

Santiago said they are eyeing the last weekend of February for the launch and oath-taking in Davao City of the 21-member BTC. President Duterte, who was mayor of this city for 22 years, comes home every weekend.

She said they had to decide on a target date for the launch even as the appointment papers had not been released. They have been assured, she said, that the appointment papers are ready for release.

The peace implementing panels of the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front meet Thursday, 09 February 2017 in Davao City to discuss ways forward, including setting the target date for the launch of the 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission. MindaNews photo by Carolyn O. Arguillas

The panels met at the Kanato Hall of the Royal Mandaya Hotel  Thursday to discuss several ways forward in the implementation phase. The passage of the BBL is a major part of  the implementation of the CAB as it would pave the way for the establishment of  the Bangsamoro ministerial government, a new autonomous political entity that would replace the 27-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The peace implementing panels of the government and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) were scheduled to meet informally at the Waterfront Insular Hotel Thursday evening to schedule the formal meeting. (Carolyn O. Arguillas /MindaNews)  

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