The Philippine government is a day away from making history with the scheduled signing of the final peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) set for tomorrow in Malacañang.
On Thursday, the two parties will sign the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that will formalize the creation of a new political entity in Muslim Mindanao.
Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said the signing of the comprehensive peace pact could serve as a “source of inspiration” to other countries facing “similar troubles.”
She said the CAB is the Philippines’ “contribution to the pursuit of peace” worldwide.
“Many other countries [that]face similar troubles are looking up to us to show the way or possible modalities by which they can also address their own domestic conflicts,” Ferrer said, adding that a similar peace agreement was last recorded in Aceh, Indonesia between the Republic of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement in 2005.
“Our experience, our mechanisms, our approaches have become a rich source of inspiration to these countries that remain challenged by different sources of domestic hostility,” she added.
The five-page, 12-point text document will include pertinent details on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, its four succeeding annexes, the ceasefire agreement of 1997, the agreement on peace signed in Tripoli in 2001 and the 2010 declaration of continuity of negotiations.
“The CAB text to be signed will reiterate the principles of the negotiation, namely recognition of the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people; their aspiration for a meaningful autonomy through a democratic process; the aim of finding a solution to the Bangsamoro question with honor, justice, and dignity; the aim to end the fighting between the government and the MILF and promote peace and stability,” Ferrer told reporters.
This will also reiterate “the recognition of the responsibilities of the parties to protect and enhance the rights of the Bangsamoro people and all other inhabitants, correct historical injustice, and equitably diffuse wealth and political power,” she added
The pact will be signed in the presence of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Teresita Deles, MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Malaysia Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak.
About 1,000 people are expected to attend, including the representatives of the three factions of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
Among those who have been invited are Hadji Abul Khayr Alonto, Jimmy Labawan, and Muslimin Sema, according to Deles.
Labawan is vice chairman of the faction headed by MNLF founder Nur Misuari, Sema, former mayor of Cotabato City, while Alonto was recently named chairman of the “Top 90” founding batch.
According to Deles, the 1996 final peace agreement with the MNLF, which created the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), will be incorporated in the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which, once enacted, will implement the CAB.
The enacted law will lead to the dissolution of the ARMM, and its replacement by the new Bangsamoro political entity.
The Bangsamoro Transition Commission, which is drafting the law, aims to finish its work by March 31 to allow the President to submit the document to Congress before June.
“The leadership of both Houses has already assured us that it will become a priority once submitted by the Office of the President, and that they are targeting passage of the law by December 31,” Deles said
Once passed, a plebiscite will be held within the first quarter of 2015 in the areas that will form part of the Bangsamoro, namely the current provinces and cities in the ARMM, the cities of Isabela and Cotabato, six municipalities in Lanao del Norte, and 39 barangays in six municipalities of Cotabato province.
“Once ratified through the plebiscite, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority will be put into place . . . so that by the time of the 2016 elections, the elections in the Bangsamoro will already be under the new form of government there, and that much preparation will have been made for the shift from the full implementation now of what will be the Bangsamoro structure of government,” Deles added.