DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 Feb) — Finally, the 21 members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission that will draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) have been named, their appointment papers released three months and two days after President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order 8, expanding its membership from 15 to 21.
The Duterte administration opted to increase the number of members from 15 to 21 to allow for a “more inclusive” body that would draft the law creating the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Congress under the Aquino administration adjourned in February last year without passing the BBL.
Under the Peace and Development Roadmap of the Duterte administration, July 2017 is the target date for the submission of the BTC’s draft to Congress.
The new BTC is composed of 11 members nominated by the MILF and 10 by the government.
The MILF’s 1st Vice Chair Ghazali Jaafar has been chosen by the MILF Central Committee to chair the BTC.
The 10 members who were nominated by the government panel are: lawyers Jose Lorena, Maisara Damdamun-Latiph, Hussin Amin, Firdausi Abas and Omar Sema; Samira Gutoc, Dr. Susana Anayatin, Datu Mussolini Lidasan, Romeo Saliga and Hatimil Hassan.
The 11 members nominated by the MILF are Jaafar, Iqbal, Abdulraof Macacua, Ibrahim Ali, Atty. Raisa Jajurie, Said Shiek, Hussein Munoz, Timuay Melanio Ulama, Gafur Kanain, Ammal Solaiman and Haron Abas.
Iqbal, Ali, Jajurie, Ulama, Munoz and Shiek had served as members in the previous BTC. Not one of the former members nominated by government has been reappointed.
“Inclusive Bangsamoro law”
Jaafar was the first peace panel chair of the MILF when it started negotiating with the government in 1997 and is the signatory of the July 18, 1997 agreement for general cessation of hostilities.
Mohagher Iqbal, MILF peace panel chair from 2003 to 2016, BTC chair from 2013 to 2016 and chair of the MILF’s peace implementing panel from August 2016, will remain a member, along with five more former members of the BTC.
In a statement, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said the release of the appointment papers “will signal the start of the work to come up with an inclusive Bangsamoro law that will truly reflect and address the clamor for a genuine political autonomy for the Bangsamoro people in Mindanao.”
On Thursday, the government and MILF peace implementing panels led by Irene Santiago and Mohagher Iqbal, respectively, agreed on the last weekend of February as the target date for the launch of the BTC in Davao City.
Santiago and Iqbal told MindaNews they are optimistic the BTC can meet the July deadline.
Santiago said they are confident the draft law will be submitted to Congress before the President delivers his second State of the Nation Address on July 27. The President is expected to certify the bill as urgent during his SONA.
Iqbal said they are “not starting from scratch” and there are existing drafts that can be made as the working draft to hasten the process of the drafting.
Iqbal also said sessions can be done more frequently than the previous BTC’s twice monthly sessions with the rest of the month spent on consultations and committee meetings. He said they can even meet every day if necessary.
Of the 21 members, six are lawyers, five are women and two are representatives of Indigenous Peoples (Lumads).
Among the 10 members nominated by government are five lawyers, including two nominated by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction under Muslimin Sema. Three are women and one represents the IPs.
Of the 11 members nominated by the MILF, six are former members of the BTC including the representative from the IP. Two are women.
Among the government nominees, Lorena was a member of the legal panel of the MNLF in the negotiations with the government from 1993 to 1996 and had since served in various capacities in the ARMM and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.
Amin served as representative of the 1st district of Sulu from 1998 to 2007 and was mayor of Jolo from 2007 to 2016.
Damdamun-Latiph is Senior State Solicitor at the Office of the Solicitor General. She had earlier served as Assistant Cabinet Secretary at the Department of Education in the ARMM; Gutoc of Marawi City is is a former OIC member of the ARMM’ s Regional Legislative Assembly, and was a founder of the Young Moro Professionals; and Anayatin is chief of the Technical Management Service of the Department of Trade and Industry in the ARMM, and is a professor of peace and development.
Lidasan, an Iranun-Maguindaoan, is director of the Al Qalam Institute of Islamic Identities and Dialogue in Southeast Asia at the Ateneo de Davao University.
Saliga, a Teduray from Maguindanao, was executive assistant to former BTC Commissioner Froilyn Mendoza. He also served as Executive Director of the defunct Lumad Development Center.
Hassan, Abas and Sema were nominated by the MNLF-Sema faction.
A native of Basilan, Hassan had served Vice Chair of the MNLF and worked with its Foreign Relations Office. He was a member of the MNLF peace panel since in the negotiations that led to the signing of the Tripoli Agreement in 1976 and the Final Peace Agreement in 1996.
Abbas served as MNLF legal counsel from 2006 to 2011 and legal adviser to the MILF from 1998 to 2000. According to the profile provided by OPAPP, Abbas is recognized as “Sultan of Lanao.”
Lawyer Omar Yasser C. Sema is counsel of the Central Committee of the MNLF chaired by his father, Muslimin Sema. He was a member of the MNLF panel in the Tripartite Review of the GPH-MNLF peace process and was a member of the MNLF-MILF Joint Technical Working Group to draft the new BBL. He was founding member and first Secretary General of the MNLF Youth.
The new Commissioners nominated by the MILF are Jaafar; Macacua, chief of staff of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces and secretary general of the United Bangsamoro Justice Party; Abas, chair of the Secretariat of the MILF Central Committee, had earlier served as secretary to the late MILF chair Ustadz Salamat Hashim; Kanain of Parang, Sulu had served as consultant of the OIC- Assemblyman Romeo Sema from 2011 to 2013; and Solaiman, legal officer at the Department of Health in the ARMM and Executive Secretary of the MILF’s 2nd Vice Chair Ali Solaiman.
The six reappointed members are Iqbal; Ali, chair of the organization’s Da’wah Committee and a member of its Darul Ifta; human rights lawyer Jajurie, who was a member of the MILF’s technical working group on the Annex on Wealth-sharing.
Shiek, a Maranao, was head of the MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and was a member of the MILF’s technical working group on the Annex on Normalization; Muñoz, also known as Sonny Davao from Lupon, Davao Oriental, is Deputy Chief of Staff of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, while Ulama, a Teduray, heads the Organization of Teduray and Lambangian Conference. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)