DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 July) — The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under founding chair Nur Misuari will no longer submit its proposed amendatory law to enhance the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) but will instead push for federalism, its Peace Implementing Panel chair said.
“In line with conversations between President Rodrigo Duterte and MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari in the previous five meetings which among others touched on federalism, the MNLF will no longer submit a draft New Autonomy Law to avoid complications. The MNLF-GPH Process will have to contribute directly to the fast tracking of federalism,” Peace Implementing Panel chair Randolph Parcasio told MindaNews on Wednesday.
Misuari led a delegation that paid a courtesy call on President Duterte Tuesday night in Malacanang, a day after the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) submitted to the President its draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
The BBL is based on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed on March 27, 2014. The BBL was not passed under the Aquino administration. Its passage will pave the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that will replace the 27-year old ARMM.
The 21-member BTC is led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), with members from government, Indigenous Peoples and the MNLF faction under Yusoph Jikiri and Muslimin Sema.
In saying the MNLF under Misuari will no longer submit its proposed amendatory law or what it refers to as “New Autonomy Law” (NAL) “to avoid complications,” Parcasio is referring to the complications arising from the seemingly irreconcilable intent of the BBL and the NAL that Congress, according to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, would “converge.”
The BBL will establish the Bangsamoro that will replace the ARMM while the NAL will amend RA 9054, the law governing the ARMM, to enhance or strengthen it.
One-Mindanao Federal State
Under the Bangsamoro Peace Roadmap approved in July last year, the convergence of the MILF and MNLF peace tracks is supposed to happen within the BTC, which was expanded from 15 to 21 precisely to get the MNLF factions to participate in crafting the draft Bangsamoro law.
Misuari’s faction, however, declined to be part of the BTC. Dureza set up a separate peace implementing panel for it, to work on the last provisions under the 1996 Final Peace Agreement that the MNLF says have not been fully implemented.
The MNLF faction under Jikiri has three members in the BTC who worked with other BTC commissioners on the inclusion of the unimplemented FPA provisions into the new draft BBL.
Parcasio said they finished drafting the amendatory law. “Nahuman na unta namo New Autonomy Law pero nag-decide MNLF nga dili na lang” (We finished drafting the New Autonomy Law but the MNLF decided not to submit it), he told MindaNews.
Parcasio explained that “the totality of all MNLF-GPH peace agreements –1976 Tripoli Agreement, 1987 Jeddah Accord, 1996 Final Peace Agreement, the result of the Tripartite Review — provide a template on the power, authority, territory of a One-Mindanao (Regional) Federal State.”
He said the “applicable provisions of the draft autonomy law drafted by the GPH-MNLF Implementing Panel can be a template for such power and authority of a One-Mindanao (MinSuPala) Regional Federal State and for all proposed Regional States in the Visayas, and Luzon for that matter.”
MinSuPala refers to Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan.” The proposed Bangsamoro will cover the five ARMM provinces and two cities — Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi, the six towns in Lanao del Norte that voted for inclusion in the 2001 plebiscite and some villages in some towns in North Cotabato.
Duterte announced in the meeting Tuesday night that Parcasio would be one of 25 members of the Consultative Committee (ConCom), the body that would review the 1987 Constitution in preparation for the shift to a federal system of government.
The EO provides that the ConCom shall “study, conduct consultations, and review the provisions of the 1987 Constitution, including but not limited to, the provisions of the structure and powers of the government, local governance, and economic policies.”
The President signed EO 10 creating the ConCom on December 7 last year but he has yet to appoint its members. Congress will begin deliberations on amending the Constitution after the ConCom submits its report six months after it is convened.
Not abandoning FPA
Parcasio clarified that its non-submission of the proposed ARMM amendatory law does not mean they have abandoned the 1996 peace agreement.
“Wala gi abandon kundili gi-reconcile ang FPA ug Jeddah Accord” (Not abandon but reconcile FPA and Jeddah Accord), Parcasio said, adding the FPA is the basis for powers and authority while the Jeddah Accord is the basis for the territory of the proposed MinSuPala federal state which he refers to as the “original Bangsamoro homeland.”
He said the Bangsamoro core territory proposed in the BBL will be an enclave of the MinSuPala federal state.
Under the proposed federal Philippines of Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Jr., the proposed Bangsamoro will be a federal state, not a mere enclave.
Pimentel told MindaNews in late February that the Bangsamoro “will be treated as one regional state. One regional government” while Alvarez told MindaNews in late March that there would be five Mindanao states, two of them Bangsamoro states — one in mainland Mindanao comprising Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur and the other comprising the islands of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi.
MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim told MindaNews the decision of the MNLF under Misuari is a “positive development since there will be no more complication with the new BBL.”
Murad said the new BBL has converged the MILF and MNLF peace tracks.
Guiamel Alim, Executive Director of the Cotabato City-based Kadtuntaya Foundation and a member of the Council of Elders of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, also welcomed the news. “Good decision so there will be no more problem on convergence,” he said.
Deputy Speaker for Mindanao and Maguindanao Rep. Bai Sandra Sema said she respects the decision of the MNLF under Misuari “as we move for the enactment of the enhanced BBL where it can also serve as template for federalism.”
Duterte has repeatedly said since the Presidential campaign in early 2016 that the Bangsamoro can be the template for federalism.
At the MILF’s Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, Duterte told MILF officials on February 27 last year that if he wins as President, he would work for the amendment of the 1987 Constitution to change hte system of government into federalism “but if it takes time, and if only to defuse tension, in my government I will convince Congress to pass the BBL then make it as a template for federal states.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)