GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/16 June) — Contentious issues in the negotiation of the three remaining annexes to the Framework of Agreement on Bangsamoro have delayed progress in the roadmap to establish the Bangsamoro. GPH chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer explained the delay in the “Q&A” (Question and Answer) posted last Thursday, June 13, in the OPAPP Website. Her explanations, however, suggested more delays are to be expected.
This question nags: Will Bangsamoro be entrenched before President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III steps down on June 30, 2016 as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has envisioned – not just mere entrenchment?
Sad to note, the Bangsamoro that MILF has envisioned is also imperiled by challenges from the Moro National Liberation Front and to the MNLF by one provision in the FAB and collateral documents. Their complicating implications cannot just be brushed aside.
MNLF has long challenged the propriety, validity and legality of the Government-MILF negotiation on the ground that the same Moro problem involving the same people and covering the same territory has already been resolved in the 1996 GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement or Jakarta Accord. Since November 2007, the 1996 FPA has been undergoing a tripartite [OIC-GRP (GPH)-MNLF] review on questions of implementation.
What is the imponderable fact? The Philippine Government will give to MILF what it has already given to MNLF.
According to the MNLF-Misuari faction (The Philippine Star, June 13, 2013: Gov’t, MNLF resume talks), the MNLF and the government panels will meet in Malacanang on June 17 to 19 in preparation for the tripartite talks to resume in Saudi Arabia in August. The government’s commitment to the MNLF is as much alive as to the MILF. Curiously, though, there is no mention of this in the OPAPP website.
The MNLF appears conciliatory, seeing “no conflict with the framework agreement (with the MILF) because it aims to address the Bangsamoro problem in Mindanao.” In a resolution, MNLF reported, the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) “called on the government to synchronize the framework agreement forged by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to the accord with the MNLF”.
Stated simply, MNLF is challenging MILF and Government to merge their agreement with the GRP-MNLF 1996 FPA according to the OIC resolution. But the MNLF position and the OIC resolution will complicate rather and simplify the MNLF-MILF conflict and cast Bangsamoro into limbo.
First, there are no agreements to merge yet. The FAB is still an agreement in progress; the 1996 FPA is under review. Government and MILF may sign their comprehensive agreement his year. But the conclusion of the tripartite review is indefinite; the OIC has yet to settle the representation imbroglio among the MNLF factions without end in sight.
Second, should Government and MILF agree with MNLF and OIC, MILF has to hold a new negotiation with the MNLF. The FAB roadmap will have to be abandoned at Step 5 (Transcom drafts Bangsamoro Basic Law bill) and a new one drawn. When will this happen especially considering the MNLF representation imbroglio? Who and how will the MILF-MNLF negotiation be conducted?
Third, will the MILF and MNLF be able to merge their visions of Bangsamoro? And what visions? The MILF has clearly shown its vision in its negotiation with the government. The 1996 FPA does not show clearly what the MNLF vision is.
That the Aquino government is keeping alive the tripartite review of the 1996 FPA has implications that can complicate the MILF response to the MNLF challenge – if MILF takes seriously that challenge.
What is the challenge of the FAB to MNLF?
The FAB provides that “Upon promulgation and ratification of the Basic [Bangsamoro] Law …the ARMM [Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao] is deemed abolished (FAB.VII.8).
The Annex on Transitional Arrangement and Modalities (I.E. Paragraph 2) is specific: The BBL “shall provide for the repeal of Republic Act 9054 and the creation of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority” that will supplant the ARMM.
The Philippine Government is not abrogating the 1996 GRP-MNLF FPA. In enacting the BBL, the Congress will only repeal RA 9054 that it enacted in 2001. But RA 9054 is the implementation the 1996 GRP-MNLF FPA which is the “full implementation” of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement. The implications are dizzying. That will render irrelevant the tripartite review of the full implementation of the FPA.
That is challenging the MNLF to question before the Supreme Court, first, the Government-MILF Comprehensive Agreement if Government and MILF would ignore or reject the OIC bid to have the Agreement merged with the 1996 GRP-MNLF FPA; or, second, the BBL once promulgated and ratified.
GPH Panel Chair Ferrer said in her “Q&A”, as well as in earlier statements, that the Aquino Government wants any agreement with MILF “legally defensible”. Is it also anticipating any eventuality of the MNLF taking the Government and MILF to court?
Call Misuari and the MNLF spoilers. However, understand them. By 2005, ten years after the signing of the FPA, they completely lost political power in the ARMM. MNLF splintered and Misuari, in particular, was pulled down from the pinnacle of fame and dashed onto the dust of ignominy – for seven years from 2001 to 2008 in detention for rebellion. Only the OIC had sustained Misuari and MNLF.
The tripartite review is their best chance to recover their lost power and glory. While the FAB is spoiling this chance, through the auspices of the OIC, MNLF will compromise to have a part of the Bangsamoro. If further spurned, can they be stopped from going to the Supreme Court to avail of their last resort even if it would mean irreparable spoilage of the Bangsamoro? (Patricio P. Diaz/MindaNews)