Duterte: Bangsamoro law is “one of the great developments that happened in this country”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 12 February) – Calling it “one of the great developments that happened in this country” in the last three years, President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he is glad the ratification of RA11054 or the Organic Act for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao “succeeded,” asked those who took up arms to bury them and urged everyone to “join us in government.”

“Ilibing mo na ‘yan, ‘di mo kailangan. Isang putok lang ‘yan gulo. Pero kung tahimik tayo, mag-usap tayo at maibigay naman ‘yung gusto ninyo na tulong na dapat talaga sa inyo,” (Bury your firearms, you don’t need them. Just one shot and that will cause trouble. But if we’re peaceful, let us talk and we will give you the help you need and you deserve), Duterte told a crowd that gathered at the Buluan municipal gym for the distribution of Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) to agrarian reform beneficiaries of Maguindanao.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech after leading the ceremonial distribution of Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) to the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries of Maguindanao at the Buluan Municipal Gymnasium on February 11, 2019. Duterte said the ratification of the bangsamoro law is ‘one of the great developments’ in the last three years. ALBERT ALCAIN/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Duterte repeated several times his call to get rid of firearms: “bitawan mo” (let go), “put a stop to it” and “drop the arms” – as he addressed everyone, not just the farmer-beneficiaries present.

“Magsama-sama na lang tayo … ‘yang … armas, bitawan mo na ‘yan at mamumuhay tayo ng mapayapa, walang pasikat-sikat, wala ‘yung warlord-warlord na may armas” (Let us be together … let go of your firearms and let us live in peace, no showing off, no warlordism), he said.

“Put a stop to it,” Duterte said, referring to the habit of some to build an arsenal so they will lord it over in the future. “Pag eleksyon, siya ‘yung … punta doon at takutin ‘yung mga tao” (During election, they will use the arms to intimidate the people).

“Drop the arms. Walang mangyari kasi kung magbili ka, ang gobyerno magbili rin ‘yan (Nothing will happen because if you buy firearms, government will also buy)…. What kind of life or quality of life do you have — want? Abutin natin (Let us achieve that).

The ratification of RA 11054 paves the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the new political entity that will replace the 28-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The BARMM will have a parliamentary system of government and before its first election of officials in May 2022, will have a three-year transition period.

The 80-member, Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) which will be led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as agreed upon in the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, will govern the area during the transition period.

The ratification of the law also paves the way for the decommissioning of the first 30% of weapons and combatants of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), the armed wing of the MILF.

Decommissioning is a four-phase process under the peace agreement between government and the MILF, the first phase a ceremonial turnover to the Independent Decommissioning Body of 20 crew-served weapons and 55 high-powered firearms on June 16, 2015. On the same day, 145 BIAF members were also decommissioned.

An Independent Decommissioning Body member inspects the tag of one of the firearms belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front during a ceremonial turn-over on June 16, 2015 at the old Maguindanao provincial capitol in Sultan Kudarat. MindaNews file photo by Toto Lozano

Under Phase 2, the Annex provides that when the Bangsamoro law is ratified, 30% of the forces and weapons would be decommissioned. Under Phase 3, 35% more would be decommissioned, and in Phase 4, the last 30%/

“For our children”

“We are not here talking to destroy the future and our family. We are here planning for what we can do to them so that by the time they are the fathers and mothers of the community, they would know what to do and make it more comfortable for our children,” Duterte added.

He said he would dedicate the last three years of his six-year term to ensure a peaceful Mindanao.

“I have the remaining three years. I will dedicate it to a peaceful Mindanao,” said Duterte, the country’s 16th President, first Mindanawon President and first President to have Moro roots (his maternal grandmother, he said, was a Meranaw).

He recalled how he won landslide in the Moro-dominated areas. Duterte got 920,743 votes in the five-province, two-city, 116-town Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in the May 2016 elections.

Duterte was in Buluan Monday to lead the ceremonial distribution of 834 CLOAs to 780 agrarian reform beneficiaries.

“Pag natapos itong away at meron na ‘yung legal entity na BARMM, make use of it then add more lands in the hands of the people na nagtatanim kasi ang Pilipinas agricultural,” he said.

Duterte enjoined everyone to take part in helping build a peaceful Mindanao.

“Let us do it for our children. Mabuhay ang BOL (Bangsamoro organic law). Mabuhay ang Maguindanao. Mabuhay si Murad,” Duterte said, referring to MILF chair, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, who was not present.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte poses for a photo with the legislators and negotiators in the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), as well as top officials from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police during the presentation of the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to the MILF at Malacañang Palace on August 6, 2018. Richard Madelo/Presidential Photo

“May BOL natupad. Si Murad okay na siya, kontento. Mabuhay ang Moro. (The Bangsamoro organic law has been fulfilled. Murad is now okay, content.). Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!,” he said.

Like most of his speeches on the Bangsamoro, Duterte did not fail to mention Nur Misuari, founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

“Kung makuha ko si Nur, kung — insha’Allah, kung mag-usap kami at nakuha ko ang loob niya, medyo peaceful na,” (If I get Nur, Insha Allah, if we can talk and I can win his heart, it will be peaceful somehow), said Duterte.

Duterte and Misuari have been close friends for several years.

As chair of the MNLF, Misuari signed the 1976 Tripoli Agreement with Salamat Hashim as his vice chair. The MNLF split into three factions after the failure in implementing the peace agreement which would have granted autonomy over 13 provinces and nine cities in Mindanao and Palawan (now the equivalent of 16 provinces and 15 cities).

Instead of one autonomous region, then President Ferdinand Marcos, using his legislative powers under martial law, created two regional autonomous governments, one based in Zamboanga City, the other in Cotabato City.

The MNLF protested what Marcos did. But eventually it split into factions – Misuari’s supporters stayed on with the MNLF while Dimas Pundato headed the MNLF Reformist Group and Hashim set up the MILF. Pundato returned from exile in 1986 and joined the government of President Corazon Aquino.

Women walk along corn fields in Barangay Kabasalan in Pikit, North Cotabato on their way to their respective polling places on February 6, 2019. Residents of war-torn villages in Pikit are optimistic that inclusion in the Bangsamoro autonomous region means an end to war. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

The MNLF broke into several more factions all of them invited to nominate representatives to the 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), the body that drafted the Bangsamoro Basic Law (what is now RA 11054 is the substitute bill filed by the bicameral conference committee of Congress).

The MNLF faction under Yusoph Jikiri and Muslimin Sema has three representatives in the BTC.

Misuari did not nominate anyone to the BTC.

The 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the MILF-led body that will govern the BARMM in the three-year transition period, is expected to be set up within the month.

Murad is the MILF’s nominee for the post of Chief Minister. According to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez, Jr., nine of the 80 nominees are from the MNLF. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)