BULUAN, Maguindanao: Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles on Monday updated officials and residents of this province on the status of the peace process and rallied them to vote yes during the plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
“The peace panels are ready to sign the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) likely by early March,” she said, referring to the final peace deal between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Deles spoke before a jampacked crowd at the municipal gymnasium here as the Guest Speaker in the opening of Maguindanao’s celebration of the 3rd Sagayan Festival. The peace adviser thanked Maguindanao Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu for his support to the Bangsamoro peace process.
Deles asked the people of Maguindanao and its political leadership, as well as those from the other provinces and areas included in the Bangsamoro core territory, to ratify the Bangsamoro Basic Law once it gets passed by Congress. The envisioned core territory covers the present geographical area of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; the Municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal in the province of Lanao del Norte and all other barangays in the Municipalities of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit, and Midsayap that voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite; the cities of Cotabato and Isabela; and all other contiguous areas where there is a resolution of the local government unit or a petition of at least ten percent (10%) of the qualified voters in the area asking for their inclusion at least two months prior to the conduct of the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Chants of “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the Greatest) reverberated inside the gymnasium in response to the call of Deles for support to the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the Mindanao peace process.
Deles narrated that President Benigno S. Aquino III informed the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, the body mandated to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that he wants it to be finished and submitted to him by March 31. She explained that the President intends to transmit the draft immediately to Congress marking it as the foremost priority bill of the Administration.
“We’ve already come this far, so let us all support this peace process. The negotiations were difficult in adherence to the order of the President to learn from the lessons of the past and that everything must be within the ambit of the Constitution,” Deles said.
“The important thing on the part of the government during the negotiations was that it was guided by the principle not to make promises it cannot deliver politically, economically and culturally,” she said.
She informed the crowd that members of the BTC, chaired by Mohagher Iqbal, who is also the MILF chief peace negotiator, recently met the leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives separately to ask for their support to the bill.
The joint leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives has agreed to make the proposed Bangsamoro law a top legislative agenda and targets its approval on or before December 31, Deles said.
The GPH and MILF panels have recently completed and signed the last document that will complete the CAB. The comprehensive agreement will include the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its four annexes on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing, Power Sharing and Normalization, together with the Addendum on Bangsamoro Waters.
“The Annex on Power Sharing is the heart of the peace agreement. If there is no air, the heart is useless; it needs lungs, which is the Annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing. They are vital elements for the Bangsamoro government to work,” Deles said.
Deles told her audience that the eyes of the world are now focused on the Mindanao peace process, referring to the interest shown by the international community. She assured that investments are expected to pour in to the Bangsamoro region and the rest of Mindanao as a result of the CAB. PNA