DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 March) — The government (GPH) must deliver a “political solution” to end the Bangsamoro armed struggle by fully implementing the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) through the passage of an acceptable enabling law, said Ghazali Jaafar, the new chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) who is also first vice chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“This is a political problem and it can only satisfy the Bangsamoro people pag na-deliver ang political solution (once the political solution is delivered),” Jaafar said Wednesday at the Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao during the celebration of the 3rd anniversary of the signing of the CAB on March 27, 2014.
He said he appreciates the efforts of the government in trying to solve the issues through economic means in order to trigger development in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) but what the Bangsamoro people seek are self-determination and their own Bangsamoro government.
“Yung tulong, maraming salamat (For your help, thanks.) But believe me, ako hindi ko pa nakita ang nabigyan ng gobyerno ng tractor. (I haven’t seen the tractors given by the government). I did not bother to see. Pero sabi ko, hindi naman kailangan ng MILF and Moro people ang seedlings (But I said, the MILF and the Moro people do not need the seedlings),” he said, adding their ancestors have been surviving on their own with their agricultural produce.
“Sapagkat kung ma-implement ang BBL, may goberyno ang mga Muslim (Because if the BBL will be passed, the Muslim will have their own government.) I can assure you we can take care of ourselves,” he said.
The 21-member BTC are targeting the submission of the draft BBL before May 18 for President Rodrigo Duterte to study first before submitting it to Congress. He is expected to certify the bill as urgent during his Second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24.
Jaafar urged lawmakers to pass the enabling law for the full implementation of the CAB.
“What is important meron tayong batas (we have a law) for, unless a BBL is passed into law by the Congress of the Philippines, we cannot implement the CAB and therefore, no solution …. And therefore, status in the Bangsamoro remains as it is now,” he said.
MILF peace implementing panel chair Mohagher Iqbal said “the real issue is how to give self-governance to the Moro people within the context of Philippine sovereignty.”
He said the 2014 CAB is more attuned to the experience of the Moro people compared with the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between GPH and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under founding chair Nur Misuari, as the former will pave the way for a “ministerial government” replacing the ARMM which is “unitary in character.”
He said they are hoping the Congress will pass into law the BTC’s proposed draft of the enabling law to implement CAB, which is a negotiated settlement between GPH and MILF to put an end to four decades of armed conflict.
“On top of that, we are confident under the leadership of our friend (President Duterte). We have to bring back peace in our homeland because we believe that there is still hope for a better tomorrow. Let’s unite and together we will make it in order to realize a better tomorrow,” he said.
“I would say that there is frustration in every man, but hope is also being rekindled in the face of still so many things waiting to be realized, waiting for implementation. Hope is one thing we cannot afford to lose,” he said.
Iqbal said that the May 18 deadline proposed by government for the BTC to complete the draft is “too ambitious a timeline” but if they can finish it “sooner, much better.”
“But May 18 is too ambitious a timeline, I don’t know if we can do that, but best effort, best effort,” he said
Irene Santiago, GPH implementing peace panel chair said they are optimistic the BTC will meet the deadline because they are not starting from scratch because they will look into the previous BBL that was not passed in the previous Congress under the Aquino administration.
She said the draft must be filed in Congress by June 2017, so that it can be certified as urgent by Duterte in his 2nd SONA.
Congress is presently on recess but will resume sessions between May 2 and June 2 then goes into go into sine die adjournment and resume on July 24 with Duterte addressing them in his second State of the Nation Address(SONA) on July 24.
She said they can ensure the passage of the BBL by engaging the public with its bigger peace tables to raise awareness of the people on the historical injustices that triggered the Bangsamoro armed struggle.
“We need the public opinion that is going to support the right to self-determination of the Bangsamoro people. People of the Philippine will have to understand what you mean by historical injustice. We are working on a communication plan,” she said.
She said they hope to create a support mechanism from all stakeholders who will push for the passage of the enabling law “because that’s one that is going to stop the violence so we have learned lessons.”
Deputy Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Nabil Tan, chair of the five-member GPH peace implementing panel dealing with MNLF’s Misuari faction, said they will follow the six-path peace development track in addressing the issues.
“One up to four are completion of all peace peace processes – negotiation with CNN (Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-New Peoples’ Army) and the peace-building and the peace table engagement with the different stakeholders,” he said.
He said Duterte wants to honor previously signed agreements with the rebel groups.
He said they are hoping they are able to convince Congress to pass the enabling alw.
“Congress is definitely a deliberative body. We hope that we are able to convince them that this is the way to go,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)