Duterte: We Will Implement All Signed Peace Agreements

Manila, Philippines, 24 Ramadan 1437/30 June 2016 (MINA) — Rodrigo Duterte, 16th president of the Republic of the Philippines, on Thursday promised to honor and implement peace with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), hinting this would be done as the country shifts to a federal form of government, Philstar reported.

“My administration is committed to implement all signed peace agreements,” Duterte said in his inaugural speech in Malacañan. He said that this would be done “in step with constitutional and legal reforms.”

During the election campaign, Duterte visited the MILF leadership in the rebel group’s Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, where he promised to continue the peace process, which has been stalled by Congress’ failure to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The BBL, which would create an autonomous territory with powers devolved from the central government, would have implemented the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

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Duterte also said in presidential debates that conflict in parts of Mindanao is rooted in the historical injustice that must be addressed and corrected.

Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, Duterte’s pick and likely the next speaker of the House of Representatives, has said, however, that the proposal to create a Bangsamoro territory would be included in a proposed plan to create a federal government, where regional states would have greater autonomy from the federal government in Manila.

The MILF has said that the CAB should be implemented since the constitutional changes needed for the shift to federalism would take years.

On Wednesday, however, MILF Chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim and Muslimin Sema — chairman of the largest of three MNLF factions — signed a joint communiqué saying they have committed to harmonizing the CAB and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the government and the MNLF.

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Murad said both groups are willing to work together on a common roadmap for the implementation of the peace deals.

“There was no implementation ‘in letter and spirit’ of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, the Jeddah Accord and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the government and the MNLF,” Sema said. Implementation of the CAB, meanwhile, has been continuing despite the BBL being stalled in Congress.

The MILF has, for example, conducted a symbolic decommissioning of weapons and combatants. The government, meanwhile, has funded development projects to transform MILF camps into productive and peaceful communities.

“I am elated by the expression of unity among our Moro brothers and leaders,” Duterte said Thursday. “I look forward to the participation of stakeholders particularly indigenous peoples to ensure inclusivity in the peace process.” (T/R07/R01)

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Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)