GPH, MILF to formally re-launch its peace engagements in KL meeting

By on August 12, 2016


Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza (left) with Former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles. (Photo: OPAPP)
Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza (left) with Former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles. (Photo: OPAPP)

DAVAO CITY—Members of the government’s newly-created implementing panel and representatives of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are scheduled to meet in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Aug. 13-14 to formally re-launch the two parties’ engagements for the implementation of the two-year-old Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

The formal meeting between the Philippine government and the MILF is the first under the Duterte administration. President Rodrigo Duterte, who won in a platform to correct the historical injustices committed against the Moros in Mindanao, vowed to implement all signed peace agreements in the country.

In a press briefing, presidential peace adviser Jesus G. Dureza said the scheduled meeting was crucial as the two sides were entering the implementation phase of the peace agreement.

“This [meeting] is actually to launch the implementation stage of what we envisioned to be a Bangsamoro enabling law. It is to implement the CAB that was signed between the government and the MILF in 2014,” he told journalists here.

“We have already gotten the consensus of all sectors in the Bangsamoro that the period of the negotiations is over. We are now in the process of implementing all these signed agreements,” he added.

The guidance of the government implementing panel is hinged on the Peace and Development Roadmap that was recently approved by President Duterte. Under the said roadmap, all Bangsamoro peace agreements—MILF’s CAB and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), as well the key results of the 10-year-old GPH-Organization of Islamic Cooperation-MNLF Tripartite Review Process—will be integrated into the new enabling law that will create a new Bangsamoro government unit; thus, replacing the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The implementation of the peace agreement with the MILF largely depends on its political track since the Bangsamoro Basic Law — the supposed implementing mechanism of the CAB — failed to pass in the previous Congress.

Dureza said that the KL meeting would zero-in on the mechanism that determines how the new enabling law will be crafted, as well as to discuss key provisions in the CAB that can already be implemented, including the delivery of socio-economic development programs in Mindanao.

Moro convergence

The presidential peace adviser also explained that the composition of the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), a body tasked to draft the new enabling law, would be among the agenda of the upcoming meeting.

He said the possible idea was to expand the representations of the BTC to include leaders of the MNLF, officials of the ARMM, and other sectors in Mindanao for it to be inclusive.

“If everything goes well, and it is acceptable in their convergence, that can be very well be the mechanism to start of the groups to already come together and craft of the enabling law,” Dureza hoped.

BTC is now composed of eight representatives from the MILF and seven appointees of the government.

“There must be a convergence of all sectors among the Bangsamoro and in the forthcoming crafting of the enabling law that will establish the Bangsamoro governance unit. We’d like to see inclusivity in this work, meaning all sectors in the Bangsamoro must be adequately represented,” Dureza pointed out.

Dureza, who have touched-based with Moro leaders earlier, including MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim, said there is a collective understanding of the willingness of all Moro leaders to be part in crafting of the enabling law.

On Tuesday (Aug. 9), Dureza met with MNLF’s Muslim in Sema, who expressed his commitment to join the BTC.

Dureza said they are also looking forward to have a meeting with MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari “but he is still under legal constraint because of the pending case against him.” However, there are “direct engagements with him through other channels.”

Misuari is facing charges following the so-called Zamboanga Siege, where more than 200 people were killed in a three-week battle.

“This is part of our continuing efforts to reach out to all the key players in the work for the sustainable peace with the Bangsamoro,” Dureza said.

Continuing engagement

Meanwhile, the KL meeting will also serve as a venue for the Duterte administration to brief the Malaysian facilitators on its peace agenda in Mindanao.

“We would like to brief the Malaysians on our peace and development roadmap under the Duterte administration. Remember, the Malaysians have contributed enormously in the negotiation stage. Therefore, we thought it’s fitting to give them that due recognition for their contributions to our peace efforts by launching the implementation stage in Kuala Lumpur,” he said.

The government delegation will be headed by Dureza, along with the chair of the implementing panel Irene Santiago, and its members, namely: Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Undersecretaries Diosita Andot and Nabil Tan, and Assistant Secretaries Dickson Hermoso and Rolando Asuncion.