Philippine Government to Expand Bangsamoro Transition Body

Manila, Philippines, 05 Safar /05 November 2016 (MINA) – Now that Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari has come out of hiding, President Duterte will sign on Monday an executive order creating an expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

The BTC will resume the formal work to revise the proposed law creating a Bangsamoro region in Mindanao, Philstar quoted the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) as saying in a statement.

“The signing of the executive order that will create a more inclusive Bangsamoro Transition Commission on Monday is a significant step closer to a comprehensive and inclusive resolution of the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao,” the statement read.?It added that the peace process in Mindanao is on track, with both the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the MNLF on board for a more inclusive resolution to the conflict.

“They are now willing to sit at the peace table and work together with the government to address the historical injustices committed against the Moro people. This is an unprecedented and historic development,” OPAPP also said.

Previously, the BTC was composed of 15 members – eight from the MILF and seven from government. The new BTC may have as many as 21 members.?The BTC is an independent body tasked to consolidate all peace agreements and legislation into one bill to create the Bangsamoro region replacing the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).?The creation of Bangsamoro is an implementation of a peace agreement signed in March 2014 between the MILF and the Aquino government.

The ARMM, created after a 1996 peace agreement between the government and the MNLF, was declared “a failed experiment.”?Followers of Misuari then protested the peace process with its breakaway group MILF and launched the 2013 Zamboanga siege.?Misuari, after three years of hiding, met with Duterte Thursday in Malacañang and vowed to help bring peace to Mindanao.?

Also Read:  Philippine Government to Relaunch Peace Talks with MILF in Kuala Lumpur

 
MNLF faction welcomes Duterte plan

Muslimin Sema, leader of an MNLF faction that has a mutual cooperation agreement with the MILF, said he is grateful to President Duterte for his commitment to put peaceful closure to the Mindanao Moro issue.

“We cannot solve the Moro problem if we are disunited. Now we are lucky. We have a Mindanaon president who understands the Mindanao Moro situation,” said Sema, whose group is not hostile to the MILF established by former MNLF members that opposed Misuari after he signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996.

Senators supported Duterte’s move to reach out to Misuari.

Sen. Francis Escudero said it would be up to the courts to decide on the fate of Misuari, who is facing charges for his role in the bloody 2013 Zamboanga siege.

“It’s always heartwarming to see former protagonists together and former warriors talking peace. At the end of the day, the primordial consideration for me is for Filipinos to already stop killing each other,” Escudero said.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan, chair of the Senate committee on national defense and security, said the government must do whatever is necessary to ensure lasting peace and development not only in Mindanao but in the entire country.

Sen. Leila de Lima, however, insisted that Misuari must be held accountable for the bloody siege as the government has enough evidence to prosecute him for the deaths of hundreds of people during the incident.

De Lima, who was justice secretary when the siege occurred, said she respects Duterte’s prerogative in dealing with Misuari, whom she pointed out was “not the MNLF.”

Also Read:  Kuwait Reinstates Support for Palestine at UNSC

“I will not second guess him (Duterte) on this, neither will I actively oppose it, but just a reminder to him that for every action, especially when it comes to appeasing Misuari, there are always consequences,” the senator said.

Peace advocates also support the meeting of Duterte and Misuari that could level up the momentum to facilitate the peace talks and reintegrate armed rebels into the mainstream of society.

Ernesto Alcanzare, lead organizer of Yes for Peace Bayanihan ng Bayan para sa Mapayapa, Maunlad at Masaganang Pilipinas, said that the public statements of the President and Misuari are seen as a go signal for them to follow through their plan to present “A Call for Bayanihan Towards a Peaceful, Progressive and Prosperous Philippines” and a menu of community-based government programs prepared by 18 learners of the just concluded Integrated Gabay ng Paglilingkod (I-Gabay) of the Leadership and Management Program (LAMP).

Mama Lalanto, an adviser of the peace advocate group, said that they have informed presidential adviser on the peace process Jesus Dureza and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the government’s chief negotiator with communist rebels, of their plan to seek the help of government agencies for the delivery of service to ensure the success of the comprehensive peace process.
Nur, do you want another 40 years?

Some Mindanao-based bishops yesterday said that while they support the peace talks, there should be justice for those who suffered because of the Zamboanga siege in September 2013 that was initiated by the MNLF faction of Misuari.

Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad believed the Pasig court’s granting of a six-month suspension of the warrant of arrest against Misuari so he could participate in the peace talks was something that might be “difficult to accept.”

Also Read:  ARAB LEAGUE TO MEET OVER SYRIA REFUGEES IN LEBANON

Up to now there are still people who are suffering because of the Zamboaga siege that took place from Sept. 9 to 28, 2013.

“Even Basilan suffered during the Zamboanga siege. The damage inflicted by MNLF to Zamboangeños and Basilenos during those black days is irreparable… until now most are displaced because their homes were burned and the government has not given them homes until now,” said Jumoad.

For Marbel, South Cotabato Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, “joining the peace talks is good but no peace is without justice and love.”

Monsignor Crisologo Manongas, who was the administrator of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga during the time of the siege, said he has mixed feelings about the six-month suspension of the warrant against Misuari.

MILF leaders said they were not bothered by the meeting of Duterte and Misuari in Malacañang and they are still convinced that the administration will uphold the Oct. 15, 2013 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.

Meanwhile, the President asked members of the military to provide solutions to peace in Mindanao and other problems that beset the country after receiving adverse reactions over his open arms welcome for Misuari.

He urged those who disagreed to his decision to craft a foreign policy not dependent on the United States and provide him sound solutions that would benefit the country.

“What is wrong to talk with Misuari and embracing him? Eh Moro ako (I’m a Moro). And I want to talk to him, because I told him, Nur we have been fighting for 40 years, do you want another 40 years,” he said. (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)