Duterte to sign EO on new Bangsamoro Transition Commission this week

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/01 November) – President Rodrigo R. Duterte is expected to sign the executive order creating the new Bangsamoro Transition Committee (BTC) on November 3 in Davao City, an official said Monday.

In a chance interview, Patmei Ruivivar, communications director of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), said their officials and government (GPH) implementing panel members met in Clark, Pampanga last week to finalize the 10 members of the commission from the GPH side.

“We worked on it last week. We had a strategic planning with OPAPP execs, kasama ang implementing panel. We finalized the composition of the BTC members ng government side,” she said.

The BTC, an independent body, is tasked to consolidate all peace agreements and legislation into one bill on the Bangsamoro, call for an inclusive Bangsamoro Consultative Assembly to discuss such bill, and submit its new version to Congress not later than July 27, 2017.

Ruivivar said the draft EO is already with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea for review.

In the August 13 meeting held in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, the implementing panels of the GPH and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) agreed to increase the BTC membership to 21.

Ruivivar added the GPH representative to the BTC will be known after the signing of the EO.

GPH peace implementing panel chair Irene Santiago said on September 22 during the Davao Peace Fair 2016 at SM Ecoland that Muslimin Sema’s faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) will be given two to three seats.

She said the president himself suggested the “convergence” of MILF and MNLF members so they may work together for peace.

She said the GPH is looking for “creative ways on how to do the convergence” to ensure inclusivity of the peace process in Mindanao.

Santiago said the new BTC will certainly refer to the old Bangsamoro Basic Law in crafting its new version “but it’s a new BTC and so we cannot predict what it is going to do but certainly those are available to them. It’s up to them to decide, it’s an independent commission.”

Congress sidelined the BBL after the Mamasapano encounter in January 2015 that claimed the lives of 44 police Special Action Force personnel, 17 MILF fighters and five civilians.

Some lawmakers used the incident to question the sincerity of the MILF in forging peace with government to end the almost 50-year conflict in Mindanao that has claimed the lives of around 120,000 combatants and civilians.

Despite the incident the government and the MILF vowed to pursue the peace process. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)