THE administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte is inclined to see full implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) forged between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), as well as passage in Congress of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Jesus Dureza, the incoming Peace Adviser of the new President, said.
Dureza made the assurance after the signing of a declaration of continuity in the search for sustainable peace between the two camps in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Monday.
“In my capacity as Presidential Peace Adviser-nominee to President-elect Rodrigo R. Duterte, allow me to welcome with positive note the forging in Malaysia of the declaration of continuity in the search for sustainable peace between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front,” he said in a statement, which was read during a special meeting of the GPH [Government of the Philippines] and MILF negotiating panels.
Dureza lauded the affirmation of the partnership between the government and the MILF and vowed to continue the momentum of the Bangsamoro peace process once the new administration takes office on June 30.
“We intend to continue with the gains and build on those already done and achieved. The roadmap that we will traverse hereon will take policy guidance and direction from the new President when he assumes office on June 30, 2016,” the statement said.
Besides the declaration, the two panels signed two documents — the “Terms of Reference for the Establishment of the Bangsamoro Normalization Trust Fund (BNTF), a multi-donor trust fund envisioned in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Annex on Normalization” as well as the Terms of Reference for the Project Board of the Mindanao Trust Fund for the Six Previously Acknowledged MILF Camps (MTF-RDP Camps Project).
The peace panels asserted that the signing of the declaration “seeks to ensure the full implementation of the agreement in the next administration.”
They also congratulated Duterte, expressing their “optimism that the roadmap provided for in the CAB will be fully accomplished” within the term of the new President.
Government chief peace negotiator Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and MILF peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal welcomed Dureza’s statement, saying they are “very optimistic of the peace process going on a smooth transition to the next administration.”
“It’s very clear that [the Bangsamoro peace process] and the overall agenda to resolve all armed conflicts that have divided the country would remain a very important national agenda,” Ferrer said.
Outgoing Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles said she met with Dureza last week to discuss turnover and transition matters.
“The gesture is much appreciated, Secretary [Dureza] and I agreed that together with our teams, we will be working to ensure that there will be a seamless transition,” Deles added.
The Bangsamoro peace process under the Aquino administration was jumpstarted by the meeting of President Benigno Aquino 3rd and MILF Chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo, Japan, in August 2011.
The first major document signed under the current administration was the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) in 2012.
This was followed by a series of signing of annexes, which culminated in the forging of the CAB.
The CAB served as basis for the drafting of the BBL that will establish a parliamentary regional government with more political and fiscal autonomy than the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Aside from the legislative track, the CAB also outlines socio-economic and normalization provisions.
Deles said while there remains unfinished business that they need to pass on to the incoming administration, what they will turn over is a better positioned peace table that the Aquino government has worked hard to achieve in the past six years.
“What made the difference that we were able to achieve so much was PresidentAquino’s unwavering commitment to the process. It gained the trust of our partners in this peace table that got us through several stumbling blocks and challenges. And it is our hope that the same will continue on in the next administration,” she added.
“How relevant it is to have an incoming Chief Executive who we feel that not only understands the fight of the Bangsamoro but more important speaks for it,” said Iqbal in his opening statement on Sunday.
“We welcome the President-elect’s offer of a unifying hand in securing peace and development in Mindanao. After all, that is what we need for starters to move forward.”