EO on Bangsamoro Transition Commission out “in two to three weeks”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19 October) — The Executive Order creating the 15-person Transition Commission (TransCom) that will prepare the groundwork for the Bangsamoro political entity by 2016 will be issued “in two to three weeks,” Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, said.

Infographic courtesy of Official GazetteDeles told MindaNews the EO would be out “in two to three weeks in light of undas holiday.”  Undas refers to All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (November 1 and 2) which fall on Thursday and Friday this year. The Friday before that, October 26, is Eid’l Adha, the Islamic Feast of Sacrifice,  which was declared a holiday by President Aquino’s Proclamation 488 issued on October 9.

The GPH and MILF peace panels will resume talks in Kuala Lumpur next month to finish the annexes on power-sharing, wealth-sharing, and normalization.

The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed last Monday in Malacanang provides that the TransCom will have an all-Bangsamoro membership of seven from the Philippine government (GPH) and eight from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), including the chair.

The TransCom will be created through an Executive Order “and supported by  Congressional Resolutions” and will have three main tasks:

– to work on the drafting of the Bangsamoro  Basic Law with provisions consistent with all agreements entered and that may  be  entered  into by  the  Parties;
-to work on  proposals to amend the Philippine Constitution for the  purpose of accommodating  and entrenching in the constitution the agreements of the Parties whenever necessary without derogating from any prior peace  agreements; and
-to coordinate whenever necessary development programs in Bangsamoro Communities in conjunction with the MILF Bangsamoro Development  Agency (BDA), the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management  Institute (BLMI) and other agencies.

Reflective, Responsive

The GPH and MILF agreed in its Decision Points on Principles on April 24 this year, to work for the creation of a new autonomous political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

In its Joint Statement on October 7, the peace panels said the Framework Agreement  “serves as the overarching architecture for the Mindanao peace process and provides the foundation for a just and enduring peace in Mindanao.”
It also defines the powers and structures of the new entity that will replace the ARMM and “sets the principles, processes and mechanisms that will shape the new relations between the Central Government and the Bangsamoro.”

In his October 7 address to the nation to announce that a Framework Agreement has been reached,  President Aquino said the agreement “creates a new political entity, and it deserves a name that symbolizes and honors the struggles of our forebears in Mindanao, and celebrates the history and character of that part of our nation.”

“That name will be Bangsamoro,” he said.

In his closing statement on October 7, GPH peace panel chair Marvic Leonen, who refers to the FAB as “the mother agreement,” said the Bangsamoro should be “not only be reflective of collective aspirations of its constituents, but also responsive to the political, social and economic means of its communities on the premise that it is by providing that space for self-governance can the people truly maximize their potentials and develop their political, economic, social and cultural institutions.”

Transition period cut by half  

The transition period under the FAB is actually half the number of years from the original proposal of the MILF peace panel.

In its draft proposal handed over to the GPH panel on February 9, 2011, the MILF proposed a seven-year transition period: a one year pre-interim period and six years interim period, which shall immediately commence at the end of the pre-interim.

MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal told MindaNews Thursday that they agreed to a shorter transition because “there is no other way except to do it,” referring to the opportunity of a possible negotiated political settlement under the Aquino administration.

A big part of their originally proposed seven-year transition period would be beyond 2016, under a new President who may or may not be as supportive of the peace process as Aquino, whom the MILF leadership believes  has shown strong political will in getting the peace process to move forward.

Defying protocol, President Aquino invited MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim to a meeting to discuss the peace process. After the two-hour meeting  held in Japan on August 4 last year, the two leaders vowed to fast-track the peace process  so that a peace agreement can be forged within the first half of his six-year term and implementation can immediately begin.

The President said he could only promise what he could deliver within his term, which ends at noon of June 30, 2016.

The 15-year GPH-MILF peace process has spanned four administrations – from Ramos to Estrada to Arroyo to Aquino –  and at least three major wars – the “all-out war” waged by the Estrada administration in 2000, displacing nearly  a million  villagers, the 2003 “Buliok” war under the Arroyo administration which displaced  a little over 400,000 and the 2008 war following the aborted signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, which displaced some 600,000.

The 2008 mass displacement was “the biggest new displacement in the world” out of 4.2 million newly displaced in 2008, the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) said in its April 2009 report.

TransCom, Transition Authority and ARMM abolition

As agreed, the TransCom will be “independent from the ARMM and other government agencies” and once it submits the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, the President will certify it as an urgent bill.

“Upon promulgation and ratification of the Basic Law, which provides for the creation of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA),  the ARMM is deemed abolished”  and “all devolved authorities shall be vested in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority during the interim period.”
As soon as the BTA is in place, “the ministerial form and Cabinet system of government shall commence” and it  “may reorganize the bureaucracy  into institutions of governance  appropriate  thereto.”

The BTA is tasked to “ensure that the continued functioning of government in the area of  autonomy is exercised pursuant to its  mandate under the Basic Law.”

The BTA will be “immediately replaced in 2016 upon the election and assumption of the members of the  Bangsamoro legislative  assembly and the formation of the  Bangsamoro government.”

The TransCom,’s creation through Executive Order” is to be “supported by Congressional resolutions.”

Deles said the EO has been drafted and they are targeting its release  “in two to three weeks.”

Congress takes a break from October 20 to November 4, will resume sessions from November 5 to December 21 and will go on Christmas break from December 22 to January 20.

From October 19, 2012, there are 1,350 days or 44.5 months left to June 30, 2016. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)