COMMENT: Transition That Will Work Imperiled (6)

IV. Post Script

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 26 May) ­– Besides the need for the BTA to set up the Bangsamoro that will truly solve with finality the Bangsamoro Problem – a task that the shortness of time for the transition proper could frustrate, a period still possible of being further shortened – there are facts and realities which have to be properly appreciated and harnessed to help the BTA make the transition work and to ensure the success of the Bangsamoro. These are part or outside of the FAB, EO 120 or the ATAM.

Support of Bangsamoro

There is an impressive support for the establishment of the Bangsamoro as agreed in the FAB. Immediately after the signing of the FAB last October 15, the MILF peace panel, Moro civil societies and Moro and Christian peace groups launched information and advocacy campaign in the ARMM and in Moro communities in the Cotabato, Sulu and Davao provinces about the FAB and the Bangsamoro. The MILF panel has gone to the Middle East and Cairo, Egypt to discuss the FAB with the Moro groups there.

The Moro support for the FAB is overwhelming. The campaign is still going on obviously to update the Moro communities of the ongoing developments. Protesting against the slow negotiation of the Annexes that has delayed the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement, Moro peace groups especially the youth have urged the Parties to delay no longer as time is running out on the drafting of the BBL.

From reports in the media, support on the national level is imperceptible while that from international organizations including foreign government agencies is most encouraging. Those that have long been assisting in the peace process have assured the MILF top officials of their continuing socio-economic assistance to Moro communities and support for the entrenchment of the Bangsamoro. New players have come in.

Transcom has not yet received from Malacañang any portion of the P100-million fund for operations; yet, it has not been idle.  Luwaran reported (May 1, 17 and 19, 2013), with funding from the European Union through the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HDC) in the Philippines, Transcom convened in Cotabato City, April 30 – May 1 and in Tagaytay City, May16 – 18 to organize and held workshops and orientation concerning its task with national and international resource persons.

The 3-year, USD 7-million (around PhP 287 million) Facility for Advisory Support for Transition Capacities (FASTRAC) is the latest support program launched in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao by the United Nations and the World Bank, the sponsors, in partnership with the MILF last April 29 (MindaNews, April 29, 2013). This came after a series of consultations with the MILF and the GPH by the UN and WB.

MindaNews quoted UN and WB representatives: The program will “provide on-demand advisory services to the most relevant national and international expertise to contribute and help move forward with the peace process especially in the drafting of the Basic Law …”  It will “primarily service the technical needs of the MILF, and where requested, the Government of the Philippines panel and Transitional Commission and its technical working groups to avail of the best national and international expertise.”

While encouraging, the international support is a stern reminder to Government and MILF not to fail – not only in the establishment of the Bangsamoro but in assuring that the political entity will, in the long run, really “solve the Bangsamoro Problem”. The good will, money and effort invested by international agencies and the overwhelming support and hope of the Moro communities are too priceless to waste or trifle with.

Both chairs of the Government and the MILF peace panels have resolved “not to fail”, obviously in reference to the negotiation of the Annexes. Failure again will delay longer the drafting of the BBL; and so will be the succeeding phases in the FAB roadmap for the establishment of the Bangsamoro. Their 38th exploratory talks this month will be most crucial.

Funds and expertise may providently come or may be asked for. But no one can stop time from ticking away or recover its loss; once it runs short within an allotted period, no one can augment it within that period, unlike funds and expertise. A stern reminder!

Reorientation

There is a need to reorient Moro leaders to the principles and objectives of Bangsamoro to prepare for the post-transition period. The new order will not work unless the Moros can and will make it work. In their workshops, the Transcom members will undergo the necessary leadership reorientation; later, the same on-the-job routine can reorient the BTA members and interim ministers as well as the key officials of the Bangsamoro transition government.

The status quo unacceptable to the MILF should not be limited to the unitary system. It must include the traditional political, social and economic Moro leadership. The oft deplored social and economic woes of the Moros cannot just be blamed on the neglect of the Manila government. The late Dr. Alunan C. Glang in his book, Muslim Secession or Integration?, blamed Moro leadership for these woes. By extension, reorientation of Moro leaders is among the key answers to “How to solve the Bangsamoro Problem”.

The ARMM has been considered a failed experiment. The Government peace panel has declared it an unacceptable status quo. It appears convenient for the Aquino III government to consider and declare so. If the ARMM were an experiment – saying so being a trivializing of the seriousness and sincerity of the Cory Aquino government – that it failed was primarily due to those conducting the experiment, not per se to the experiment as conceived, proposed and planned.

To the point, Muslim autonomy as provided in RA 6734 and, as amended, in RA 9054 could have been a good start. But the first ARMM administration under Gov. Zacaria A. Candao started it wrong. Then the succeeding administrations of Governors Lininding Pangandaman, Nur Misuari, Parouk Hussin and Zaldy Ampatun not only failed to right but instead worsened the wrong. Manila chided the leaders but tolerated the wrong.

MILF leaders have seen this wrong, as well as other wrongs, in the ARMM. By their statements, they will instill the right leadership during the transition; whatever other wrongs there are will be addressed in the BBL. The reorientation is imperative. Under the same type of leaders, merely changing the name ARMM to Bangsamoro will not solve the Bangsamoro Problem.

The need is clear. However, there is no provision for this in the FAB.  It must be being presumed that the traditional leadership will change to the new with the establishment of the Bangsamoro. The same presumption, enthusiasm and optimism that anticipated the establishment of the ARMM under the Cory Aquino administration in place of the RAG did not change the status quo.

Initially, leadership transformation will take place during the transition period. However, this will be limited to leaders actively involved in the drafting of the BBL and its interim operation to establish the Bangsamoro. The transition proper or interim government under the BTA will only be one to one-and-a-half year or even shorter. How much can the BTA, during so short a transition period, put up? Just this – not very – much!

The regular Bangsamoro legislature will be elected in 2016 during the interim period. Will the few reoriented leaders be able to outmatch politically the entrenched traditional leaders? Will the Moros see or experience during the short transition enough to bear out the hope and optimism generated by the FAB to influence their vote for the Bangsamoro leaders? This reality should not be overlooked.

(To Be Concluded)

(“Comment” is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz’ column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. The Titus Brandsma Media Awards recently honored Mr. Diaz with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his “commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate.” You can reach him at [email protected])

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