GPH-MILF peace process seeks to address root causes of Mindanao conflict – Deles

By on April 12, 2015


Statement of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles. Photo courtesy of OPAPP.
Statement of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles. Photo courtesy of OPAPP.

MANILA – The ongoing peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is among the measures being pursued to substantially reduce threat to security and peace and order in Mindanao from armed groups that foment lawlessness and instability in the South, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles said on Saturday.

“Peace between government and MILF means peace with the largest, most organized armed group which has been fighting government for decades. Ending this armed conflict means that this organized armed body ceases to fight the government and instead becomes a partner in addressing the problems facing the country, including problems of lawlessness in the South,” she said.

“It enables the effective exercise of the rule of law over areas previously outside its reach and ungovernable. Certainly, that must have some value in achieving our national aspiration for shared security and shared prosperity,” she added.

Her statement came after a published news report quoted a study funded by the World Bank which noted that political violence related to rebellion and insurgency inflicts the “largest human cost” that affect Philippine development.

Deles said the government had early in the Administration concluded that negotiating with the MILF, which has concluded with a peace agreement and its legal iteration, the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), would make efforts to address the root causes of the conflict in Mindanao more effective.

Deles said despite efforts by critics to paint the Mamasapano incident as proof that the BBL won’t address the threat from armed groups in Mindanao, the peace agreement with the MILF and the establishment of the proposed Bangsamoro in the BBL would be an indispensable big step towards disarming not just the MILF but other threat groups in Mindanao.

“The decommissioning process will cover not only the MILF but also other armed groups. Hence, the BBL will have a multiplier effect,” she said.

Under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro which the government and MILF signed on March last year, the MILF agreed to decommission its firearms and weaponry and its 11,000-strong Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) in exchange for the establishment of a political entity with genuine autonomy to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Its fighters would undergo a normalization process so they could resume lives as ordinary citizens, and not as combatants anymore.

The CAB — a product of more than 17 years of peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the MILF — has also made the MILF, the biggest armed group in Mindanao, to undergo a transformation from a secessionist movement to a political group with intentions to participate and field candidates in the coming elections.

“The challenge is tough but unavoidable and doable through a combination of MILF cooperation and government law enforcement,” Deles said. “Rule of law begets trust and vice versa. Together both will encourage people to choose lawful ways to resolve conflict or to sustain life,” she added.