Pushing the peace process to the finish  

By Atty. Bayan G. Balt

A peace process is the set of sociopolitical negotiations, agreements and actions that aim to solve a specific armed conflict. In the Philippines, the passage of RA 9054 and RA 11054 (Bangsamoro Organic Law) were the most important piece of legislation achieved by both parties to realize a permanent peace in Mindanao, the former law was the outcome of the 1996 Final peace agreement between the GPH and the MNLF while the later was sourced from the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro. It is said that said laws must be seen to work, nurture and implemented according to its purpose, letter and spirit.

MILF lead and MNLF participation

More than three (3) years after its passage, RA 11054 has yet to be fully implemented, fortunately both parties stride to impart the dividend of peace in favor of the Moro affected communities of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or “BARMM”. The creation of an interim government dab as the Bangsamoro Transition Authority or “BTA” with appointed officials is a part of the peace process, simply it is likened to a car subject to test drive. The said Law (RA No. 11054) specifically provides for the two major parties (MILF and MNLF) to lead and participate in the interim government, thus,

Section 2. Bangsamoro Transition Authority. – There is hereby created a Bangsamoro Transition Authority which shall be the interim government in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region during the transition period. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front shall lead the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, without prejudice to the participation of the Moro National Liberation Front in its membership. (Article XVI, BOL).

Aside from being the lead and major party, the MILF have others rights and obligations imposes against them by the peace agreement, these are among others,

a) De- commissioning of its troops – More than 19,000 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters have returned to civilian life under the decommissioning process of the government since 2016, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) said yesterday. In a statement, OPAPRU assistant secretary Wilben Mayor said 19,345 MILF fighters were decommissioned under Phases 1 to 3 of the decommissioning process.

b) b) Exit conference- After the full implementation of the peace agreement, the parties agreed to hold an exit conference as part of the mechanism to review and monitor its compliance.

The MNLF on the other hand is guaranteed set in the “BTA” as their participation is indispensable as described in Sec. 2 of “BOL”. As of this present the MNLF has 10 members of the parliament with one cabinet position. Many MNLF members agreed their representation in the “BTA” must be increased to 15 members, in order to give meaning to the peace agreement including those previously signed in the past administrations. The “BOL” is an implementation of all the peace agreements concluded by the Philippine government with both the MNLF and MILF, the peace agreements mentioned covered the Tripoli Agreement of 1976, the Jeddah Accord of 1975 and the Final Peace Agreement of 1996. The major signatory and players of these agreements is the MNLF. Hence it is incumbent upon the Philippine government to upgrade the MNLF set in the “BTA” in the interest of justice for the Moro community they represent. As of this writing, reliable report of rigid screening of prospective applicants is in progress, unlike the former DU30 administration, some of Pres. BBM officials are reportedly interested in recommending people with skill and competence without prejudice to the provisions of the “BOL” and safeguarding the peace process. Likewise, accomplishments of incumbent members of the “BTA” are being thoroughly reviewed and evaluated. Unless the peace process is pushed to the finishing line, this country will stay far behind with its neighbors as the success of the peace process is indispensable to economic growth. Exciting to watch how Pres. BBM differs with former Pres. DU30 in handling the BARMM.

For comments: Email me at bayanbalt@yahoo.com

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*Atty. Bayan G. Balt is a past Chapter President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP-Marawi City and Lanao del Sur, 2013-2015) and Chairman of the Ranao Federal State Movement, (RFSM)

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