DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 Dec) – The Senate and the House of Representatives on Wednesday passed resolutions supporting the December 17 Executive Order creating the Transition Commission that would pave the way for a new autonomous political entity called “Bangsamoro” by June 30, 2016.
EO 120, signed last Monday, provides for the creation of the 15-member all-Bangsamoro Transition Commission (TransCom) that is tasked, among others, to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law of the future “Bangsamoro,” the political entity that would replace the five-province, two-city Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal welcomed the resolutions.
“The Transition Commission will need a lot of goodwill and support from Congress. The resolutions passed a mere two days from the issuance of the EO and before Congress closes shop for the holidays, bring good tidings to all,” the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) quoted Ferrer as saying.
“It’s a good sign of what lies ahead for the peace process. We appreciate the gesture very much,” Iqbal told MindaNews in a text message.
President Aquino is expected to name the TransCom members, soon.
The 15-member body is composed of seven representatives from the government and eight from the MILF. It will be chaired by the MILF.
House Resolution No. 971 introduced by Mindanawon representatives Jesus Sacdalan of North Cotabato, Tupay Loong of Sulu, Simeon Datumanong of Maguindanao and Acmad Tomawis (Ang Laban ng Indiginong Filipino partylist) expressed “support to the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its implementation, including the creation of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.”
A similarly worded resolution at the Senate — Senate Resolution 922 — was introduced by Mindanawon senator Teofisto Guingona III.
Senate Resolution 922 said the signing of the FAB “has inspired optimism and hope that a just framework for peace in the Muslim Mindanao region through a partnership with the Bangsamoro has been achieved” and that this “partnership and mutual recognition among our peoples are crucial in the process of nation building by providing spaces for our diverse cultures and traditions, under one sovereign Philippine Republic.”
House Resolution 971 provides for the “empowerment of the Bangsamoro people by creating the space for their meaningful participation in the process of enacting the Bangsamoro Basic law through the creation of the Transition Commission.”
The FAB provides that the TransCom shall be created “through an Executive Order and supported by Congressional Resolutions.”
The FAB was signed in Malacanang on October 15. The two panels were expected to have finished all four Annexes – on power-sharing, wealth-sharing, normalization and Transitional Arrangements and Modalities –before the end of the year. But the panels ended their four-day negotiations evening of December 15 without signing a Joint Statement on what transpired during the talks and without setting the date for the next meeting.
But panel chairs Miriam Coronel-Ferrer of the GPH and Mohagher Iqbal of the MILF said significant progress has been made in all four annexes.
The Annex on Transition, according to MindaNews sources, is 99% complete but for the leadership of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) which will govern the area in the transition between the ARMM and the Bangsamoro by June 30, 2016.
The MNLF maintains the BTA should be MILF-led while the government is proposing that the BTA be Bangsamoro-led.
Under the FAB, the President is supposed to certify as urgent bill the Bangsamoro Basic Law drafted by the TransCom.
The Bangsamoro Basic Law will also provide for the creation of the BTA and as soon as it is promulgated and ratified, the ARMM will be “deemed abolished” and “all devolved authorities shall be vested in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority during the interim period”
“The ministerial form and Cabinet system of government shall commence once the Bangsamoro Transition Authority is in place,” the FAB states.
Ferrer told MindaNews that even as the Annexes have not been completed, the TransCom can already begin work because it “will need to put up its office and staff, convene, come up with work plans and agree on procedures.”
Iqbal told MindaNews that the TransCom “can now start even without annexes.” He said there are “preliminary steps” that the Commission can do. “
In a press release, the OPAPP quoted Rep. Sacdalan, former North Cotabato governor and chair of the House Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, as saying, “it has been 40 years… we are tired of waiting so we want peace. We are supportive of peace, because this is what our next generation will inherit. They will no longer wake up to violence. No more IDPs (internally displaced people), they will be delivered with basic services, they will be empowered to sustain their livelihood, so we are very hopeful and optimistic until we reach the final peace agreement.”
“The forming of a transition commission is one of the important steps for peace in our land to be possible,” he said.
The OPAPP also quoted Guingona, chair of the Senate Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation, as saying the FAB “is crucial in the country’s attainment of normalized conditions in Mindanao.”
He said the FAB would “stabilize our relationships and our activities” and “pave the way for greater progress, especially in Mindanao”
But Guingona also appealed that “as we support the process towards peace, we must remain vigilant that the products of the process will truly bring about peace.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)