COMMENT: Bangsamoro: Fulfillment or Denial Anew? (4)

4th of a series

Essentially Convergent

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/12 November) — Convergence of the FPA to the CAB has been done in Draft BBL. Article V, Section 4 re-“Other Exclusive Powers” of Draft BBL adopted 19 “powers and competencies previously granted to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) under R.A. No. 6734 as amended by R.A. No. 9054” which were “transferred to the Bangsamoro as part of its exclusive powers”. This is convergence — the FPA to the CAB, the origins of R.A. No. 9054 and Draft BBL, respectively.

In reality, the CAB and FPA are essentially convergent. The nine substantive provisions of the Third Part of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement “to be discussed later” were the subjects of the Jakarta peace negotiation (FPA is also called Jakarta Agreement). The 2001 matrix of demands of MILF expanded those nine provisions of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement. But the CAB is the more meaningful implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement.

Will MNLF, particularly Chairman Misuari, see and admit this reality? 

For instance, Paragraph (Provision) 9 of the Tripoli Agreement calls for a “Legislative Assembly and an Executive Council” as the two main structures of the Autonomous Government. This was granted in the FPA (Paragraphs 21 to 61), exactly the same as that in Presidential Decree No. 1618 that created Regional Autonomous Governments IX and XII in 1979. However, in R.A. No. 9054 (VI.7) the five-member Executive Council is the advisory body to the Regional Governor on whom executive power is vested.

In the CAB, as drafted in Draft BBL, the federal type of Bangsamoro autonomy — its powers exclusive from and concurrent with those of the Central Government listed — is how Paragraph 9 has been fleshed out. On top of that, more comprehensive, meaningful and autonomous concessions pertaining to ancestral domain, economic and fiscal systems and security have been granted to MILF in the CAB than to MNLF in the FPA.

Unbelievable but true, we would hardly call RA 9054 an amendment of RA 6734 for the FPA was just rehashed from RA 6734. We will show this later in another article.

Not Much of a Problem

What in IPRA can be converged to Draft BBL?

The socioeconomic benefits guaranteed under IPRA are not diminished under the Local Government Code of 1991. Why fear that these will be diminished or denied the IPs in the Bangsamoro? The formation of “Tribal Barangay (IPRA VI.18) is the one guaranteed under R.A. No. 8371, not a regional autonomy; the IPs will continue to enjoy this in Bangsamoro. IPRA does not allow the creation of regional autonomous government. It was under the 1987 Constitution that the Cordillera Administrative Region was created.

Draft BBL (Article IX), guarantees the respect, protection and development of the social, cultural, and economic rights of the IPs – a de facto convergence.

The IPs with their IPRA will not pose much problem. Unless the sultans of Sulu will interpose their Sabah claim, the Sultanates will not cause much complication except, perhaps, the revival of some lost prestige and traditions. The LGUs will be concerned with powers, perks and privileges they enjoy under the Local Government Code of 1991 – a false concern.

Most Difficult

How to converge the GRP/GPH-MILF and GRP-MNLF Agreements will be most difficult. While the CAB and the FPA are essentially convergent, in matter and form they are actually divergent. There is no assurance MNLF will abide by the Dureza-Murad understanding which necessarily means to craft BEL enhance Draft BBL”. And not to be ignored, the diverse personalities and agenda of Moro leaders including their ethnic and tribal pride and animosities will always be potential sources of problems.    

Chairman Murad told MindaNews (6/25/16) that Draft BBL submitted to Congress in 2014 will be “improved” through a convergence of the 2014 CAB and the 1996 FPA before it is presented to the 17th Congress. The same MILF position has been revealed in editorials and official statements in Luwaran, the website of MILF Central Committee. In a nutshell: CAB-compliant BBL enhanced by the 1996 FPA.

Murad expects the “convergence” to be done through BCF (Bangsamoro Coordination Forum which the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) initiated in 2010 to reunite the MNLF and MILF leaders. While this position looks simple and practical, two hard questions are worrisome: How reunited are the MNLF and MILF leaders in BCF? How compatible are the CAB and the FPA?

Of the first question: it is still a puzzle. Of the second: it is open to serious scrutiny. Let’s take a look into the CAB and the FPA.

What the CAB Is

The CAB is a compendium of five landmark GRP-MILF Agreements under Presidents Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and seven substantive GPH-MILF Agreements under President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III. From it, Draft BBL was crafted as the enabling law for the establishment of Bangsamoro. Draft BBL, or any other enabling law by another name, is the implementation of the CAB  — hence, it must be CAB-compliant

The seven substantive agreements are basically the CAB. They define the principles on which Bangsamoro autonomy stands and set the parameters, mechanisms and modalities by which it functions. MILF bargained hard to satisfy the Moro aspirations; Government conceded what it could within the 1987 Constitution, particularly Article X, Sections 1, 15 to 21, to achieve genuine and lasting peace in Mindanao..

In the seven substantive agreements, the same proposals agreed in principles in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement “to be discussed later” were defined and fleshed out in GPH-MILF Decision-Points on Principles and in Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro; then more comprehensively so in the Annexes on Transitional Arrangement and Modalities, on Revenue Generation and Wealth-Sharing, on Power-Sharing, on Normalization and in the Addendum on the Bangsamoro Watershed and Zones of Joint Cooperation.

Until a Bangsamoro basic or enabling law is passed and ratified, the CAB will be the only parameter for the enactment of a law to establish the Bangsamoro agreed by Government and MILF as the political settlement of the Moro Question. After that the CAB will be archived, its letter and spirit enshrined in the enabling Bangsamoro law.

Tomorrow: What the 1996 FPA is