Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro is a ‘political document’—GPH legal adviser

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/25 November) –The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), dubbed as the “roadmap to peace” in Mindanao, is a “political document,” said lawyer Johaira Wahab, legal adviser to the peace panel of the Government of the Philippines (GPH).

“This [FAB] is neither a law nor a contract,” she said on Saturday’s Mindanao Peace Forum here.

Wahab represented GPH peace panel chair Marvic Leonen, who was recently appointment as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

“We need to insist that this document has a context.  And therefore we want to maintain that caution and that prudence in the treatment of this document,” she stressed.

Wahab discussed the provisions of the FAB, specifically on the name “Bangsamoro,” territory, power, wealth, revenues, and on basic rights.

She also said that the peace panels of both the GPH and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have expressly admitted to the need for laying down the details of the FAB provisions.

“As a political document, the language of this document is negotiated,” Wahab said, as she shared that the MILF panel has expressed that “this document is not an ideal document that we would have wanted. Neither is it for government. But because it was a negotiated document, there are certain things that we wanted to be there particularly with respect to language.”

“This document neither assumes nor guarantees any constitutional amendment.  That is the context of this document,” she stressed.

Wahab emphasized the holding of a Bangsamoro “core territory” plebiscite, which will be the consultative political exercise for the people to approve or reject their inclusion to the Bangsamoro territory.

As provided for in Section 1 of Article V of the FAB, the core territory of the Bangsamoro “shall be composed of (a) the present geographical area of the ARMM; (b) the municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal in the province of Lanao del Norte and all other barangays in the municipalities of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit and Midsayap that voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite; (c) the cities of Cotabato and Isabela; and (d) all other contiguous areas where there is a resolution of the local government unit or a petition of at least ten percent (10%) of the qualified voters in the area asking for their inclusion at least two months prior to the conduct of the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the process of delimitation of the Bangsamoro.”

In its statement, the Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace said that “as a settlement, FAB is an incomplete document,” and explained further that it bears “three major annexes that have yet to be fleshed out in a process that poses some serious uncertainties.”

The Mindanao Peace Forum opened the Mindanao Week of Peace 2012, which is set on November 29 to December 5. The Mindanao Week of Peace is an annual celebration organized by the Peace Advocates Zamboanga since 1998.

Some 200 representatives from various Mindanao ethnic groups and government and non-government organizations gathered here Saturday for the forum. (Frencie L. Carreon/MindaNews)