COMMENT: IV. BEL: Roadmap and Roadblocks (3)

3rd of nine parts

The Contrary

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 23 Dec) — On the morrow and the days after, media stories played different tunes. Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chair Misuari was ready to talk peace with the government pursuant to the “full implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement”(FPA) not along the Bangsamoro Peace and Development Roadmap (BPDR) track. He wants the involvement of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC)  – in other words, the resumption of the GRP(GPH)-MNLF-OIC Tripartite Review.

He had rejected the GPH-Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) negotiations and agreements as illegal, in violation of the 1996 FPA. In his press statement at the Palace, he called the Sema-MNLF and the MILF traitors, “repeating lies and lies and lies” in their propaganda against his MNLF faction and him. He lashed at “some media people” for calling his MNLF a “spent force”. He was as belligerent and combative as ever.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, sensing it, told MindaNews (11/4/16 and 11/9/16) Misuari was to “organize a five-person panel that government will engage with”. He “doesn’t want to get involved with the MILF at all … doesn’t want to be subsumed in the BTC …. There is still a very deep division, in principle, between the two groups. You cannot wish that out immediately so we will have to develop an environment that they can eventually maybe better understand and accept each other.” Will the separate tracks create that environment?

Five days after his dramatic meeting with Misuari at the Palace, President Duterte must have realized the futility of hoping that Misuari would go along the BPDR track. He considered “holding separate talks with … Misuari, who has been critical” of the GPH-MILF peace talks. ( 11/9/16).

No miraculous change. He is true to what past Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process  Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles had observed of him: “What he wants is perpetual entitlement to the leadership of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao” (ARMM)  (OPAPP Q&A, 10/21/13).  Evidently, he is now getting what he wants.

Dureza Confirms

MindaNews, on November 5, reported Secretary Dureza had confirmed as final that the Misuari-MNLF faction would not join the Sema-MNLF faction as part of the GPH panel in the MILF-led Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). Instead, its five-member peace implementing panel would deal with another government panel separately from the BPDR track.

Dureza elaborated this after the issuance of EO No. 08 s. 2016. Evidently, to suit Misuari, the single-track process based on the BPDR to be followed by the new BTC under the oversight of the GPH-MILF implementing panels was revised.   

Two-track: The revised plan involves two tracks. Let’s call the first the MILF-led BTC track and the second Misuari-MNLF track. They converge in the Congress.

On the first track, the 21-member BTC – 11 MILF appointees and 10 GPH with three from the Sema-MNLF, as mandated by Executive Order (EO) No. 08 s. 2016 (Section 3a), will “draft proposals for a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which shall be submitted to the Office of the President for submission to Congress”.

EO No. 08 s. 2016 is silent. But from media reports, it is understood that the first track is the modified BPDR track under the present GPH-MILF implementing panel and that it will converge or consolidate the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), 1996 FPA, R.A. No. 9054 and other relevant laws in drafting the Bangsamoro Enabiling Law (BEL).

On the second track, the five-member MNLF panel will deal with a separate GPH panel to pursue the review of the 1996 FPA for its “full implementation” – a revival of the MNLF-GRP-OIC Tripartite Review, November 2007 to January 2016. The agreement of the MNLF and GPH panels will be submitted to the Congress to amend R.A. No. 9054.

It is the Congress that will consolidate the BTC “proposals” and the GPH-MNLF panels’ agreed amendment of R.A. No. 9054 into the BEL that will hopefully satisfy all parties. The “that-clause” in bold (ours) acknowledges with apprehension the many difficult problems that lie on the two tracks.

Will Bangsamoro surmount these problems and survive?

Tomorrow: Talking Plan and Position