DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 April) — President Rodrigo Duterte will call all Moro revolutionary leaders to a meeting to come up with a consensus on how to move forward in implementing the legislation aspect of their peace agreements as he acknowledged he will certify for urgent passage in Congress only one draft Bangsamoro law.
“That is what we want,” Duterte said at the press conference Monday afternoon after his pre-departure statement on his state visits to the Middle East’s Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar.
Duterte inherited from previous administrations since Marcos four major peace agreements with the Moro revolutionary fronts — the Moro National Liberation Front’s (MNLF) Tripoli Agreement of 1976 and Final Peace Agreement of 1996 and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in 2012 and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in 2014.
Both peace agreements are on their implementation phase — the 1996 FPA which is a continuation of the 1976 agreement, with only three major issues the MNLF hopes will finally be resolved and implemented under the Duterte administration — and the 2014 CAB, a continuation of the 2012 FAB, which is on its early stage of implementation.
The MNLF under Misuari is drafting a law to amend RA 9054, the law that was supposed to have translated the 1996 political agreement into a legal document, to expand and strengthen the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) while the MILF, along with the other MNLF factions under Yusoph Jikiri (formerly under Muslimin Sema), are in the 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that is crafting a draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to pave the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that would replace the ARMM.
Both drafts — amendatory law for the MNLF-Misuari and the BBL for the MILF and other factions of the MNLF — are to be submitted to the President who will study the drafts and certify for urgent passage in Congress only one draft Bangsamoro law when he delivers his second State of the Nation Address on July 24.
Duterte has been meeting separately with the Moro revolutionary leaders who forged peace agreements with the government — the MNLF and MILF — in the last 11 months — two as presumptive President and President-elect, and nine as President.
But he has yet to call all of them to a meeting.
“So are you going to meet with all the Moro revolutionary leaders?” MindaNews asked during the press conference. “Yes,” he replied.
Asked when he would meet with them, Duterte gave no specific date. “The ideal is that meron si Misuari dito, meron ang MI(LF), sila Murad. Then we meet government panel and we come up with one .. consensus.”
Asked if he will certify as urgent only one draft Bangsamoro law, Duterte replied, “Yes. Yes. You are correct there. Yes.”
“I want the wars between the Filipinos ended. … besides .. I cannot wage a war against my own people,” he said.
Peace and Development roadmap
Under the Bangsamoro Peace and Development Roadmap presented by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and approved by the President in July last year, the BTC membership was expanded from 15 to 21 to make it more inclusive and MNLF factions are supposed to be represented there.
The MNLF under Sema-Jikiri has three representatives in the BTC.
In November, the roadmap changed course when Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza announced the creation of a separate five-member peace implementing panel for Misuari’s MNLF because “hindi mo naman puwede silang isama dito sa MILF na umbrella kasi may sarili rin siyang panindigan.”
“I know whereof (Misuari) speaks .. because he doesn’t want to get involved with the MILF at all,” Dureza said, adding Misuari “doesn’t want to be subsumed in the BTC and I did not even suggest that at all to him because the BTC is a mechanism out of the MILF peace agreement.”
Misuari in his speech in Malacanang on November 3 lambasted the MILF and the other factions of the MNLF for being “traitors” to the Bangsamoro cause.
Misuari’s temporary liberty ends on April 27 but the chair of his peace implementing panel, Randolph Parcasio, had earlier told MindaNews they would seek an extension.
Misuari was in hiding from September 2013 to November 3, 2016 when warrants of arrest were issued against him and 59 others for rebellion and violation of RA 9851 (Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and other Crimes against Humanity) following the September 2013 stand-off in Zamboanga City between his followers and government troops that left 104 persons dead, 192 injured and 110,000 of the city’s 807,000 population displaced.
On October 27 last year, Judge Rowena Modesto-San Pedro of the Regional Trial Court in Pasig City granted Misuari’s motion to suspend “proceedings and enforcement of warrants of arrest” against him to allow him “to attend peace talk sessions with the government.”
The suspension was for six months from October 27 to April 27.
“I know that he’s (Misuari) supposed to be in prison but you know at some point in time. … we cannot be forever quarreling with our enemies,” the President said, adding the armed conflicts with the Bangsamoro and communist fronts have been going on for nearly half a century.
“So ang sinasabi ko sa kanila, ano ba mag-usap tayo? It’s been 50 years. Or we prepare for another 50 years of fighting? Ako, I get sick in the stomach just thinking of it really. Makes me giddy. Gusto ko makipag-usap para to end (the conflicts) to everybody’s satisfaction.”
Implementing all signed peace pacts
Duterte on Monday said Misuari “has talked to me and he asked me to give him time to craft an agreement within the MN(LF) pareho rin sa MI(LF) so they can firm up their minimum barest demands within the infrastructure of federalism.”
In his inaugural speech on June 30, Duterte said his administration is “committed to implement all signed peace agreements in step with constitutional and legal reforms.”
Duterte’s peace roadmap for the Bangsamoro has two tracks: legislative and federalism.
The legislative track aims to “consolidate and converge all peace agreements and legislations, the ‘parking’ of constitutional issues in the proposed enabling law for inclusion in the deliberations for the shift to federal system, new BTC will call for an inclusive All Bangsamoro Assembly to consult on the new draft, new BTC will submit to Congress the new version of enabling law.”
Under the federalism track, the BTC “will call for an All Bangsamoro Assembly to discuss its submission to the Constitutional Change deliberation body, and new BTC will submit proposals compliant with peace agreements to the CC Congressional body within six months.”
May 18 deadline
The BTC in its first session on March 6 and 7 agreed on a May 18 target date for submission of the draft BBL to the President, as proposed by a government nominee.
In its second session on April 3 to 5, the BTC moved the deadline to May 15, as Commissioner Hussin Amin said this was the date mentioned by government peace implementing panel chair Irene Santiago during a televised interview.
MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim told MindaNews on Friday that it was President Duterte himself who set the May 18 deadline when they sat at the same table at the formal launch of the BTC on February 24 in Davao City.
Duterte on Monday said May 18 “was not an imposition by me. They were shooting the breeze at one time.”
Still, the government and the MILF have agreed that the draft BBL be submitted to the President early enough.
What is not openly said is the President needs to study the draft BBL of the government, MILF and other factions of the MNLF, and the draft amendatory law of the MNLF under Misuari.
Dureza in November said Congress will do the convergence of these two drafts, an announcement criticized by Moro leaders and civil society groups as “disastrous”
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel had earlier told MindaNews that if leaders of the Moro revolutionary fronts cannot agree, then the Office of the President or Congress can do the convergence. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Jr. told MindaNews he hopes Dureza can act on the matter.
Murad said convergence can be done at the level of the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The BCF was set up during the the 37th meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on May 18 to 20, 2010, where the Secretary-General got Misuari and Murad to sit down set up the BCF to “harmonize” the peace agreements.
The BTC last week set up its six committees to begin drafting the BBL and are presently holding committee meetings from April 10 to 12 and will meet in plenary again on April 17 to 19.
As of April 10, the Department of Budget has yet to release the BTC’s budget.
“Baka mag-iba na naman ‘yung mukha ni (Budget Secretary Benjamin) Diokno. Kausapin muna natin kung may pera ba. (Diokno might make a face again. I have to talk with him if there is money), Duterte said.
The MNLF-Misuari’s peace implementing panel has met informally with its government four times but have yet to meet formally. Undersecretary Nabil Tan, chair of the government’s peace implementing panel, told MindaNews there willbe no formal launch of their panels like the BTC, but they will make a formal call on the President supposedly first half of April.
President Duterte is on state visits in the Middle East and will return to the country on April 16. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)