MIND DA NEWS: CAB in reality

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 24 March) — With dignitaries from Asia, the Arab countries, European Union and the America among the more or less 1,500 witnesses, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed the CAB or the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamro last Thursday, March 27. 

What in reality is CAB?

Initialed in Kuala Lumpur last March 22, the CAB is the last and final agreement between the Philippine Government and MILF marking the end of a 17-year negotiation starting in January 1997, the last year of the presidency of Fidel V. Ramos. Cut short with an “all-out war” by President Joseph Estrada, it was revived by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in March 2001 after Estrada had been deposed in January 2001. President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III continued it; he will close it with a political settlement — the establishment of the Bangsamoro.

In her press briefing in Malacañang last March 25, Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chair of the Government Peace Panel, explained what the CAB is. (OPAPP Website: March 25, 2014: “Statement of GPH Peace Panel Chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer at the Press Briefing in Malacañang”)

First: The CAB, a short five-page, 12 point text, will formalize the completion of the negotiations. Its text to be signed:

1. Reiterates the principles of the negotiation, namely: Recognition of (a) the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people, their aspiration for meaningful autonomy through a democratic process; (b) the aim of finding a solution to the Bangsamoro Question with honor, justice and dignity; (c) the aim to end the fighting between the government and the MILF and promote peace and stability; (d) the responsibilities of the Parties to protect and enhance the rights of the Bangsamoro people and all other inhabitants, correct historical injustice, and equitably diffuse wealth and political power.

2. Reiterates the commitment to all signed documents

3. Thanks all those who played important roles in the process

4, Provides the principles of implementation: (a) mutual respect for the right to one’s identity; (b) continuing dialogues and consultations, leading to the establishment of a Bangsamoro government that will protect individual and collective rights, and be truly democratic, accountable and representative of the diversity of its populace; (c) for the parties to abide by the modalities and mechanisms provided; (d) most important, to ensure the integrity of the whole process.

These are the content of the five-page document that has been signed — no new agreement but reiterations of earlier principles agreed and of commitments. The principles reiterated [1] were agreed by the first panels in 2001; the principles of implementation firmed up in [4], are to some extent, also reiterations.  

Second: The CAB puts together all signed agreements pertinent to the Bangsamoro:

1. The  Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro.

2. All the agreements and documents produced in the last 18 months from the historic signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) on October 15, 2012: (a) the four Annexes on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities; Revenue Generation and Wealth-sharing; Power-sharing; and Normalization; (b) one Addendum – the Addendum on Bangsamoro Waters and the Zones of Joint Cooperation; (c) five Terms of Reference for our five mechanisms – the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT); the Independent Commission on Policing (ICP); the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB);  the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC); and the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC); and, (d) renewed our TORs for the IMT and AHJAG.

3. Three important documents signed before June 30, 2010: (a) the Ceasefire Agreement of 1997; (b) the Agreement on Peace signed in 2001 in Tripoli which laid down the agenda for the talks; (c) the Declaration of Continuity of Negotiations in June 2010 which picked up the pieces from the failed MOA-AD of 2008, etc…

What in reality is the CAB?

While the Parties signed only the five-page, 12-point CAB, they exchanged bound copies of CAB – the bound copies being the Compendium of Agreements on Bangsamoro; the signed document, the Cover of Agreements on Bangsamoro.  The comprehensive agreements, in reality, are the FAB and its Annexes and Addendum – Comprehensive Agreements on Bangsamoro (CAB).

The CAB is really a “3-in-1” document.

Some footnotes can help make the CAB more comprehensively comprehensible.

1. [Second.3], chronologically, should have acknowledged “Talking Point”, submitted by the MILF, Sub-Committee on Agenda Setting on 25 February 1997; and, “General Framework of Agreement of Intent” signed on August 27, 1998. The talk agenda were laid in 1997.

The “Talking Point” is in five words: To solve the Bagsamoro problem. As may be seen from the short document (See: GRP-MILF Peace Process, p. 7), to the credit of MILF, the 17-year negotiation has not substantively veered from the talking point and its nine issues. This was expanded in the 2001Tripoli Agreement on Peace.

The “General Framework” is a five-article agreement (See: GRP-MILF Peace Process, p. 41) on the intent of the Parties and the principles they were going to observe – basically, reiterated in the agreement to resume the negotiations in March 2001 and in [First.1] snf [First.4] above.

2. [Second.3c] gives importance to “Declaration of Continuity of Negotiations in June 2010” as having “picked up the pieces from the failed MOA-AD of 2008”. With due respect, may we say that this is quite inaccurate.

On October 14, 2008, the Supreme Court struck down the MOA-AD as unconstitutional. But it did not declare it as “null and void”, as prayed for by some petitioners. Instead the Decision provided: “The MOA-AD is a significant part of a series of agreements necessary to carry out the GRP-MILF Agreement on Peace signed by the government and MILF back in June 2001. Hence, the present MOA-Ad can be renegotiated or another one drawn up that could contain similar or significantly dissimilar provisions compared to the original.” (Bold supplied)

Starting July 29, 2009 – after a year of punitive military operations against the Moros, the Parties resumed negotiation and tried to do exactly as the Court had suggested.  MILF reframed the MOA-AD; Government offered the ARMM as the “Enhanced Autonomy”. When it had become clear that they could not come to a settlement, the Arroyo GRP and MILF panels signed the “Declaration of Continuity” setting how the incoming Aquino Government and MILF could continue the negotiation.

The “Declaration of Continuity” did not “pick up the pieces” from the MOA-AD; it provided how the incoming GRP (renamed GPH) and MILF negotiators can “pick up the pieces”. The CAB may be examined if it had “picked up some pieces” from the MOA-AD.

3. The Aquino GPH and MILF panels should have acknowledged in the five-page,12-point CAB the relevance of the Tripoli Agreement of 1976, the Mindanao Regional Consultative Assembly Draft and R.A. 6734, and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement and R.A. 9054 to the Bangsamoro. Such acknowledgment could have established the Bangsamoro as the achievement of ALL Moros in their common struggle for their right to self-determination – an unequivocal statement that the Bangsamoro is for ALL Moros, not just for MILF.                   

[MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Author’s Note: Mind da News, the alternate of COMMENT, is an opinion on current news. The author may be contacted at patponcediaz@yahoo.com.]