COMMENT: Bangsamoro: Fulfillment or Denial Anew? (5)

5th of a series

What the 1996 FPA is

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 13 Nov) –The short title of the agreement is “Peace Agreement”. The common and popularly used “1996 Final Peace Agreement” is derived from its introductory paragraph, “The final  Paragraph 152, FPA is referred to as “the full implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement”.

The phrases “final agreement” and “full implementation” are the keys to “what the 1996 FPA is” in reference to the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and how compatible FPA and the CAB are.

The 1976 Tripoli Agreement, an agreement in principles to be fully “discussed later” and fleshed out, was not immediately implementable. The full details of the seven substantive provisions, Paragraphs 4 to 10, had to be first agreed in subsequent negotiation before the Agreement could be implemented to establish the Muslim “Autonomy in the Southern Philippines” declared in the “First” Part.

Paragraph 11 called for a GRP-MNLF “mixed Committee” to meet in Tripoli, Libya, February 5 to March 3, 1977, to thresh out the full details.

Paragraph 13 called for a GRP-MNLF joint meeting in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the “first week” of March to initial the finalized Agreement. This “final Agreement” would be signed in Manila (Paragraph 14).

“Immediately after” the Manila signing, “a Provisional Government” appointed by the Philippine President “shall be established” to prepare “for the election of the Legislative Assembly” and to “administer the area of autonomy … until a Government is formed by the elected Legislative Assembly” (Paragraph 15).

But the mixed Committee failed to finalize the Agreement. The domino-effect: There was no final agreement to initial and sign; there was no Provisional Government established according to Paragraph 15.

Libya President Muammar Gadaffi (variation: Khadaffy) tried to conciliate – obviously with the consent of the OIC and MNLF Chair Misuari – by convincing President Marcos through “wire diplomacy”—a three-day (if we recall correctly) exchange of wires on how to implement the Tripoli Agreement. President Marcos agreed and established a two-region “Regional Autonomous Government” according to his own interpretation of Paragraph 16 of the Tripoli Agreement.

Gaddafi protested. Misuari and the OIC rejected the Marcos option. All negotiations and peace talks after that until the Jakarta peace talk failed in the attempt to finalize the 1976 Tripoli Agreement by agreeing on the full details of its seven substantive provisions. Only in the 1996 FPA was this realized.

Ironically, however, the reference to the 1996 FPA as “the final agreement” and the “full implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement” raises thorny questions. First: If the FPA was the last GRP-MNLF peace agreement, was it a satisfactory political settlement of the Moro Question? Second: Were the proposals agreed in principle in the seven substantive provisions more fully fleshed out than the same in the CAB? Third: Is the Bangsamoro autonomy envisioned in the FPA more meaningful and genuine than that in the CAB?

FPA Unlike CAB

Acceptance of the status quo: Unlike the CAB, the FPA, judging from its provisions, was not meant to abolish the existing ARMM established in 1989 under R.A. No. 6734 and replace it with a more meaningful and genuine autonomy under a new enabling law or Organic Act. It was only meant to enhance the ARMM by amending or repealing R.A. No. 6734. This is clearly seen in Parts I and II of the FPA.

In amending or repealing R.A. No. 6734, given to the Congress was this option, “The bill shall include the pertinent provisions of the final Peace Agreement and the expansion of the present ARMM area of autonomy [I.2(a)]” ; and to GRP the obligation to recommend, “Accordingly, these provisions shall be recommended by the GRP to Congress for incorporation in the amendatory or repealing law [III (Phase 2)]”. (Bold text supplied)

In the CAB, it is mandatory for BBL to be CAB-compliant and for the ARMM to be abolished outright upon the ratification of the BBL to be replaced by the Bangsamoro. This is Point 2 in the “Decision Points on Principles”, Part I, Paragraph 1 of the FAB, and the subject of Draft BBL adopted as HB No. 4994 and SB No. 2408.

In accepting the status quo, MNLF settled for enhanced ARMM as the political settlement of the Moro Problem. The same was offered to MILF – each time firmly rejected – in June 2000, June 2001, February 2003 and January 2010 under President Arroyo; under President Aquino, this was offered in August 2011 as the GPH counter-proposal, the “3 in 1 Approach”.  

A rehash: Coupled with the lack of mandatory provisions, the FPA is a rehash of RA 6734 – the FPA adopting much of the RA. In Chapter VII of our book, What Ails Muslim Autonomy?, (1998), we compared closely how the FPA and the RA fleshed out the substantive paragraphs of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and found their provisions to be respectively “identical, basically similar, complementary or supplementary”.  

The FPA has no detailed agreements of the demands agreed in principle in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement “to be discussed later”; it is really a proposed enabling law to amend an existing organic act that it has rehashed. The CAB is a compendium of detailed agreements. The FPA is its own enabling law, unlike the CAB. After the Congress had amended RA 6734, the FPA became RA 9054. The counterpart of the FPA is Draft BBL, not the CAB. This can complicate convergence to craft BEL.

Under Review

With questionable circumstances in the background, the Arroyo government agreed with the OIC in 2006 to review the full implementation of the FPA as petitioned by MNLF. The OIC-GRP-MNLF Tripartite Review with OIC presiding – not just facilitating –began in 2007. The fifth and final Tripartite Meeting was in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on January 25-26, 2916 (OPAPP Website, January 27, 2016).

MNLF complained that R.A. No. 9054 was passed without its participation and that the Congress had not fully implemented the FPA.  It asked the OIC – not the Congress –to have the implementation reviewed and to amend R.A. No. 9054 accordingly. From the official reports, it is evident that “full implementation” referred to how the FPA – by phraseology — was transformed into R.A. 9054, not to how the RA, as FPA in substance, was implemented.

Within 22 months after the Third Tripartite Meeting (March 11-13, 2009) 36 issues or concerns were identified. At the Fourth Tripartite Meeting (February 22, 2011), OPAPP Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles remarked that 15 issues had been resolved, referred to as “consensus points”. Nine issues must have been added later since Deles revealed on September 21, 2013 during a “Q and A” session on the status of the Review that 42 consensus points had been achieved with three more concerns to resolve.

By the Fifth and Final Tripartite Meeting the same status stood. A bill to amend R.A. No. 9054 with the 42 consensus points to “fully” implement the FPA was deferred. Misuari objected to its submission to the Congress until the three remaining issues were resolved to his satisfaction – rendering the eight-year Review inutile. Deles explained the three issues were not within the purview of the review either for not being in the FPA or for having been already complied with. 

What now is the status of the FPA? How does this affect the status of R.A. No. 9054? What are their implications to their proposed convergence –especially the FPA — to BBL?   

Tomorrow: Defer to CAB and BBL