DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/08 July) – Bangsamoro women gathered at the plaza of Cotabato City on Monday morning to call on both government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to make progress in their roadmap to the Bangsamoro, the new autonomous political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) by June 30, 2016.
In a statement titled “We are women united for just and durable peace,” the United Youth of the Philippines-Women (UnYPhil-Women), organizer of the women’s rally said, they recognize the importance of “proper and sufficient transition period” before the May 2016 elections “and reverting to ARMM is not even an alternative if it is a failed experiment.”
As the Bangsamoro women gathered in Cotabato City, the GPH and MILF peace panels resumed talks in Kuala Lumpur, three months after the last round of talks.
The roadmap, based on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed on October 15, 2012, has 15 steps, the first of which was the signing of the FAB.
To date, only 3.25 steps have been accomplished because under Step 2, only one of four annexes to the FAB, has been signed: the Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities on February 27. The annexes on Wealth-sharing, Power-sharing and Normalization have yet to be signed although the Annex on Wealth-sharing was initialed on February 27.
Step 5 is the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law by the Transition Commission (TransCom). The TransCom has been constituted under Steps 3 and 4 but cannot move to Step 5 unless the three remaining annexes are completed.
“We need progress, not hastiness. We know the urgency of signing the prerequisite documents before the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law but we also recognize the importance of substantive consultations and elucidation of the issues given due diligence. We also recognize the importance of proper and sufficient transition period before the 2016 elections and reverting to ARMM is not even an alternative if it is a failed experiment,” the UnYPhil-Women’s statement read.
President Aquino had referred to the ARMM, an entity set up in 1990 under the administration of his mother, President Corazon Aquino, as a “failed experiment.”
Each day’s delays in accomplishing the roadmap’s steps is a day taken away from the transition period.
Last week, the CSO (Civil Society Organization) Summit on the Bangsamoro Peace Talks in Davao City called on both panels to sign the peace agreement “now” because “time is running out.”
If the delays continue and the Bangsamoro entity is not set up by 2016, the ARMM will continue operating.
Under the FAB, the ARMM will be deemed abolished only when the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) shall have been set up.
President Aquino is bent on making the “Bangsamoro” his legacy. But he has also been supportive of reforming the present ARMM, appointing his former congressional buddy, Mujiv Hataman as OIC Governor in December 2011. Hataman was elected governor in May but his supposed three-year administration will be cut short when the BTA takes over for the transition.
Under Step 12 of the Roadmap to the Bangsamoro, the Bangsamoro Basic Law is supposed to have been promulgated and ratified.
Under Step 13, the BTA is created, ARMM is “deemed abolished” and “all devolved authorities are vested in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.”
Under Step 14, “ministerial form and Cabinet system of government will commence” when the BTA is in place while under Step 15 — the last step — the BTA is “replaced upon the election and assumption of the members of the Bangsamoro legislative assembly and the formation of the Bangsamoro government.”
Officials of the new Bangsamoro government are supposed to be elected during the May 9, 2016 polls and are supposed to begin governance by June 30, 2016, when the President steps down from office.
The Bangsamoro, as agreed upon by both parties, will have a “ministerial form” of government that will begin as soon as the BTA is set up.
In its statement, UnYPhil-Women also said they “need the immediate signing of the comprehensive peace agreement” but added, “we also need just and durable peace. Peace that recognizes the diversity of the region. Peace that is resolute in resolving injustices and human rights violations. Peace that is emanating from the grassroots communities. And peace that works for women and their children.”
It noted that it has been nearly nine months “since the historical and hyped signing” of the FAB, six months since the supposed December 31, 2012 deadline for the completion of the annexes and the signing of the comprehensive peace pact and four months since the first of four annexes was signed.
“Clearly, the peace process is not progressing according to the road map offered to us the previous year,” it said.
The statement pointed out that the Aquino administration has only three years left till the end of its term on June 30, 2016 “but the process in building the Bangsamoro Government is still twelve steps short. The steps include undeniably long and arduous procedures on deliberation and ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Clearly, the time constraint may affect the efficient transformation of a war-torn region.”
“We already know how to get there. The road map in claiming peace and building a new autonomous political entity had been laid down. But the current impasse obscures our vision of where we are going to and what to anticipate,” the UnYPhil-Women said.
It said the women in the proposed core territory of the Bangsamoro “are reclaiming our linkage in this momentous and crucial moment in peace and nation building.”
“We are unwavering in our support to the peace process and in our responsibility in unifying a constituency with divergent perspectives. But we are also invoking the accountability of both the GPH and MILF Peace Panels in enlightening and attending to a restive constituency,” the statement stressed. (MindaNews)