A faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which emerged in the wake of an ouster move against Moro leader Nur Misuari as MNLF chairman a few years back, has thrown its support to the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
Former Sulu governor Yusop Jikiri said in a meeting with Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza in Davao City on November 2 that they have agreed to implement a massive information, education and communication campaign to push forward the BOL’s ratification in January.
COTABATO CITY – Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman said Friday he is confident the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) can hurdle scrutiny at the Supreme Court. “We cannot allow the personal interests or anyone to again sow discord where we so clearly need… Read More
Jikiri’s group was also known as the Council of 15 and was formed in late 2001 by the MNLF’s most senior leaders amid claims that Misuari had lost regard of the Moro people. It was previously chaired by Muslimen Sema, Misuari’s vice chair for political affairs, and was recognized by then president Gloria Arroyo as the real MNLF.
In the meeting with Dureza, Jikiri and his group said they were “committed to help the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte by supporting the BOL and campaigning in the plebiscite.”
Jikiri said the campaign would cover “all areas” that were proposed for inclusion in the future Bangsamoro entity.
He said they will partner with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to develop and implement a multi-stakeholder campaign on the issue.
Misuari’s faction was unclear in its support of the BOL. However, it has been reported by Duterte that the aging Moro leader had voiced several concerns over it, including the perception on diminished autonomy and powers. Misuari also insisted on the 1996 peace agreement he had signed with the government.
Duterte had repeatedly said he was talking to Misuari to convince the Moro leader to support the BOL, which he described as the last shot to forging peace in Mindanao.
The President even floated the idea of creating a separate autonomous region for Misuari’s group.
“I’d like to talk to Nur on what he really wanted so that I can give it by the end of the year,” Duterte said in Zamboanga Sibugay in July 2018. He said Misuari can have “autonomy.”
“If that is what he wants and pending the federal system implementation,” he added.
Firdausi Abbas, Jikiri’s foreign minister vice chair, had earlier suggested that Misuari’s faction should also be included, particularly in the composition of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the body that would steer the new region until the elections in 2022.
Abbas, in an interview by Manila Bulletin in August, said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) can have 80 percent of the representation to the BTA, the members of whom Duterte will be appointing. His group, he added, was willing to take just 10 percent and the remaining 10 percent should go to Misuari’s faction.
“We still consider them (Misuari’s faction) part of the MNLF,” he added.
Meanwhile, Dureza — in a statement — acknowledged the “strong commitment” of Jikiri’s group to help the national government push for a “greater level of public awareness” on the BOL.
“I am very pleased with the MNLF’s determined efforts to help the Duterte administration in generating a groundswell of support for BBL and ensure its ratification,” Dureza told Jikiri during the meeting.
“The MNLF, under the leadership of Chair Jikiri, has over the years been a reliable partner of the national government in sustaining the gains of peace in Mindanao,” he added.
Dureza noted that Monday’s meeting was an affirmation of the Oct. 7 meeting of the Jikiri-led MNLF in Sulu, during which, a resolution was passed declaring the organization’s “unequivocal support” for the BOL. (PNA)
Members of civil society, including those from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), gathered in a multi-stakeholders’ consultation last July 15 to discuss the prospects of the peace process under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, expressing strong hopes for the attainment of security, justice, and development across Mindanao.
Titled “Prospects on Journey to Peace under the Duterte Administration,” the forum was organized and convened by Miriam College-Women and Gender Institute (MC-WAGI) in cooperation with the Unites States Embassy in the Philippines, the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID), and the Center for Legislative Development (CLD).
“President Duterte has reopened and restarted the peace negotiations with the Left. He also offered vital Cabinet positions to the Left and appointed persons for negotiations,” said MC-WAGI Executive Director Atty. Aurora De Dios during her opening remarks, referring to the renewed peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA).
“President Duterte is pushing for federalism and continuously talking with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front),” she added.
In many occasions, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Jesus Dureza has put to rest reservations on whether the Duterte administration would honor the gains achieved in the peace process. “We build on every brick on the ground. There is so much that has been done already. The message is continuity, and this is for the Filipino people. Enabling peace is a work for a lifetime. It is a continuous work.”
Civil society organizations represented in the forum include Nooru Salam; United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women); the Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute (GZOPI); Balay Rehabilitation; Women Engaged in Action on 1325 (WE Act 1325); Council for the Welfare of Children; GenPeace Youth Network; Kasibulan; and the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID). Partners of the Women’s Peace Collective (WPC) from Basilan, Cotabato, Lanao del Norte, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Zamboanga were also represented.
Previous peace adviser Teresita Quintos Deles, together with former Bangsamoro Transition Commissioner Atty. Raissa Jajurie, provided attendees with a situational analysis on what has been achieved in the peace process with the MILF, with Jajurie focusing on possible means of moving forward.
“Whether the current administration would pursue the legislative track of the peace process or subsume it under the call for federalism, what is important to note is that the MILF and MNLF have shown their commitment to arrive at a peace resolution to the conflict in Mindanao,” Jajurie explained. “Whatever road map is adopted, it should be able to lead to the resolution of the Bangsamoro Question.”
The MILF and the MNLF recently released a joint statement vowing to “come together with a unified action to work at common goals and objectives to engage with the new Philippine administration.”
The two Moro fronts were also tapped recently by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to assist the government’s campaign against illegal drugs in their respective communities and strongholds.
Change from within
PCID President Amina Rasul, who served as the forum’s resource person on emerging issues on women and peace in the ARMM, said that people in the ARMM should also be willing to change and improve themselves in order for President Duterte’s peace and development initiatives to bear fruits.
“Not just because President Digong said ‘Change is coming’ means that it will happen without doing anything ourselves. It says in the Quran that God will only change the condition of man if man makes changes for himself. This means we also need to have attitudinal change within ourselves,” said Rasul, highlighting socioeconomic realities in the ARMM such as how majority of the people live below the poverty threshold and that incidences of illiteracy and joblessness remain high.
Recognizing the need for socioeconomic interventions, Dureza had earlier commented on the need for peace dividends to accompany the peace process. “It is not enough that we have signed peace agreements, it will not be sustainable. We must couple it with development. In other words, when you sign agreements, you must always make the people feel that there are dividends for peace because it is development that will sustain all these gains.” (PNA)
War drums are being banged as supporters of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte denounce results of poll surveys consistently showing the Mindanaoan presidential candidate behind the other contenders.
The frustration is loudest in Mindanao bordering on warnings of rebellion.
Taking to social media to warn of island-wide revolution against the saboteurs and the Manila government, Duterte supporters flooding Facebook with comments said the pre-poll surveys were manipulatedto favor other candidates in the May 2016 elections.
In a show of force, Mindanao political leaders earlier warned a split with the central government is inevitable if Duterte is cheated and does not win the May 2016 elections.
But will a Mindanao revolution have enough punch to shock Manila?
The firepower could just be sitting in the corner awaiting marching orders. Mindanaoans – Christians, Muslims and lumads – would love to see their umbilical cord cut from Manila.
The administration of President Benigno Aquino will be leaving in June with a legacy bereft of concern for peace in Mindanao.
The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), seen as a solution to the Moro problem, has been thrown to the backburner.
Malacanang has closed the door to talks with the leftist National Democratic Front Philippines (NDFP), whose armed wing New People’s Army (NPA) has a heavy presence in many areas of Mindanao.
The Moro problem and the communist insurgency in Mindanao are monkeys riding on the back of the Philippine government for decades.
No President has solved the chaos and violence that have killed thousands of lives, displaced millions and hindered the growth of the southern island.
Duterte has emerged to be the knight in shining armor who could help realize the Mindanaoans’ hope for peace and progress considered inconsequential concerns, through their incompetence and simple lack of heart for the people of Mindanao, by those in power in Malacanang and Congress.
Duterte, a leading figure in the search for peace in troubled Mindanao, has the support of the Moro rebel groups Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the communist rebels. Christian settlers and lumads have also rallied behind the Duterte presidency.
Duterte has also gained wide adherents to his advocacy for a shift from the present presidential to a federal-type of government.
Federalism would provide regional governments with greater powers including bigger share from taxes and revenue from natural resources.
Mindanao and other provinces, for years at the bottom of the priority list of the centrist Manila government, have shown support to Duterte’s advocacy for federalism that he said he would pursue if elected President.
Federalism, as espoused by Duterte, could be the answer to the Moro and the communist insurgency problems in Mindanao.
Mindanaoans are edgy over suspicion the Duterte presidency would be sabotaged because their future is at stake in the coming election.
Today Mindanaoans love federalism as they hate the dreadful prospect of not seeing Duterte not winning the presidency.
In a political forum recently, Duterte urging support for his presidential bid said he is the ‘last card’ of the Filipinos to save the country from perdition.
Amid widespread suspicion that Duterte’s impending presidency is being derailed by saboteurs including operators of pre-poll surveys, will revolution be the Mindanaoans’ last card to save Mindanao?
The government gives utmost importance to the protection of rights and the welfare of civil servants in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and systems have been put in place to ensure these rights would be protected when the Bangsamoro is established, says the Coordination Team for the Transition (CT4T) from the ARMM to the Bangsamoro.
The CT4T issued the assurance following the release of a statement from Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government, saying “the new government under the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region should give preference to displaced workers of the ARMM in hiring new civil servants.”
In his statement, Senator Marcos said among those the new Bangsamoro should give priority are public school teachers who comprise majority of the 30,000 civil servants in the ARMM.
In fact, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) negotiating panels and ARMM executive officers activated the CT4T in November last year to facilitate the generation and sharing of necessary information related to the transition such as the inventory of personnel, programs, properties, assets, and receivables, said Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Undersecretary Luisito Montalbo, who sits in the CT4T.
The CT4T is the primary mechanism to facilitate a smooth transition leading to the installation of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), which will bridge the period between the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro and the elections for the Bangsamoro parliament.
“We ensure that the welfare of the ARMM employees will not be shelved during the transition period from ARMM to the Bangsamoro,” said Montalbo, who is joined in the CT4T by ARMM Executive Secretary Atty. Laisa Masuhud Alamia and one other OPAPP and ARMM representative each, and another five from the MILF.
“We have a blueprint on what will happen to our ARMM employees as early as now, and that includes plans for the thousands of public teachers in the autonomous region. The plan was crafted by the CT4T with the help of other concerned agencies such as the ARMM, Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM),” Montalbo explained.
According to the original version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), as well as the House and Senate version known as the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR), the BTA will be established upon the ratification of the law leading to the first Bangsamoro parliamentary election in May 2016.
“Proponents of the Bangsamoro peace process had the foresight to establish the CT4T because they understand that it is crucial for the Bangsamoro government to hit the ground running once it is established,” Usec. Montalbo said.
Moreover, everything will be done in accordance with the law in government reorganization, as far as benefits and processes for those who might be adversely affected, Montalbo added.
Members of the CT4T, including the representatives of the MILF, recognize the social, development and political cost of a massive displacement of existing ARMM employees once the Bangsamoro Government replaces the existing ARMM.
“We need to ensure that there is as little disruption as possible in the delivery of basic services, especially education and health, during the transition period,” Montalbo added.
“In addition, we need to recognize that many of the competencies required to run the new Bangsamoro Government already reside in many of the ARMM employees, and to replace them wholesale will not make sense. Any changes in personnel will consider protecting the security of tenure of ARMM employees, guarantee continued and improved delivery of services, and fairness and transparency in all processes involving these employees in ARMM,” said Montalbo.
The proposed BBL contains a repealing clause that will deem the ARMM and all of its offices abolished once the law has been ratified.
The Senate is expected to finally conduct its first day of deliberations on the basic law on Monday, August 24. (PNA)
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