GPH-MILF framework agreement gains support of ARMM RLA, federalists

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/9 Oct) – The Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has expressed support for the Framework Agreement crafted by the peace panels of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

ARMM RLA Speaker Rasol Mitmug Jr. said in a text message Monday he fully welcomes the Framework Agreement. “As chair of security and public safety, I will exert all efforts to inform and advocate the constituency of ARMM to support the Framework Agreement to make it easy for any transition while reforms are ongoing in ARMM,” he added.

He said the RLA is hopeful that its efforts on the review of Republic Act 9054 (Expanded Organic Act for the ARMM) can be a source of input for details that need further discussions between GPH and MILF.

The RLA will submit to Congress before November 8 the consolidated recommendations from stakeholders in all provinces of the ARMM, Mitmug told MindaNews earlier.

Advocates of federalism also welcomed the Framework Agreement, saying it fits their advocacy, according to Jinggoy Candeleria, head of national secretariat of the Coalition for Citizen Constitution (C4CC).

At last Monday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City, Candeleria noted that as stated in the Framework Agreement, Chapter I (Establishment of the Bangsamoro), Paragraph 4, “The relationship of the Central Government with the Bangsamoro Government shall be asymmetric.”

He explained that with asymmetric federalism, the national government slowly gives independence to different states while in a transition towards the establishment of a national federal state.

He mentioned that the C4CC supports House Resolution 2507, proposed by Rep. Cresente Paez of Coop-NATCCO party list, calling for a federal form of government through a constitutional convention to amend or revise the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

The C4CC is conducting a signature campaign in an open letter to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to fulfill his promise of creating a Presidential Constitutional Study Group.

This study group “will facilitate a broad and inclusive consultation process among the Filipino people on whether they believe there is a need to change the constitution,” the letter said.

Also a federalist, Pat Sarenas, chairperson of Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks, at the press conference Monday, said her MILF friends noted that the Framework Agreement is paving the way to the federalism cause.

“In fact, if this takes off, if this succeeds, for sure, many parts of the country will want to have some form of this more decentralized power,” she said, adding that it will have implications in the future for changes that will augur well for local developments controlled by the people of Mindanao.

Lawyer Mary Ann Arnado, executive director of the Mindanao People’s Caucus, said the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement needs to be understood by everybody before the ceremonial signing of the document.

“We need to contribute our time and everything to disseminate this to ground level…. Now is the time to show our part by doing activities (information and education) as main contribution,” she said.

She added that her group is planning to translate the document into the Cebuano, Tagalog, Ilonggo, Maguindanao and Maranao languages, among others, to make all people understand and so they could send feedback on the agreement.

“We get excited about this Framework Agreement but there is a lot of work to do after this. The Transition Commission is only composed of 15 members. Many people should feedback,” Sarenas said.

The Transmission Commission will be created through an executive order and supported by congressional resolutions, and will be composed of 15 members: seven from the GPH and eight from the MILF, including its chairman. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro / MindaNews)

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