Forty four (44) Moro civil Society Organization (CSO) leaders coming from different parts of Mindanao in particular from Island provinces of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, Zamboanga City and Zamboanga peninsula. And the rest coming from mainland Mindanao were from SOCSKSARGEN, Central Mindanao, Davao and Lanao areas converged in a two-day reflection session for a deeper understanding of the peace processes between the government and the Moro Fronts.
The Moro CSO reflection Session was held at KCRTC, KFI Compound, Dona Pilar St., Poblacion 4, Cotabato City on March 23 – 24, 2016 is with a theme “Understanding the Peace Processes Towards Unified Advocacy” that aims to improve appropriate advocacy in accompaniment of the peace processes related to the Bangsamoro quest for self-determination.
The activity was prompted by the sad fate of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which was forsaken by the Philippine Congress despite of the high hopes and support of different groups and CSOs within the proposed coverage of the Bangsamoro entity.
In his opening remarks, Guiamel Alim Chairperson of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) made to remark on the non-passage into law of the BBL as: “What did the CSO did? Where did it go wrong? Can BBL be still passed in the next administration? And What are the best ways forward?” These are hard questions which the reflection session wanted to address. He was also able to present the Concept of Unity and Solidarity interventions to be undertaken by CBCS in different parts of Mindanao.
In order to shed light on the two peace processes two important personalities were involved as resource persons. On the MNLF-GPH-OIC Tripartite Review was presented by Datu Romeo Sema, Head Secretariat of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). In his presentation he stressed on the reasons why MNLF did not accept the result of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) among others the dilution of the original demands and the unilateral implementation by the government. This is the reason for having the 9-year MNLF-GPH-OIC Tripartite Review to thresh the loopholes that ended to the following: “establishment of the Bangsamoro Development Assistance Fund to be used for socio-economic development projects in MNLF communities; referral of the agreement on the co-management of strategic minerals to the Oversight Committee created by Republic Act 9054; for the MNLF to participate in the Bangsamoro Transition Commission of the envisioned Bangsamoro Parliament, and for the creation of a tripartite implementation monitoring committee.”
On the GPH-MILF Peace Process, the participants are allowed to have dialogue with MILF Panel and Bangsamoro Transition Commission members headed by its Chair Mohagher Iqbal right at the BTC Office in Cotabato City.
In the dialogue proper, Chairman Iqbal stressed that “there will be no more serious negotiation” to take place between the GPH and MILF. What remains to be done is the implementation of the signed agreements referring to the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) signed on October 15, 2012 and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro forged on March 27, 2014 that ended with crafting and enactment into law of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which the 16th Congress of the Philippines failed to deliver.
Reacting to the CSO leaders query on the stand of the MILF amidst non-passage into law of the BBL, he explicitly said that the MILF had laid options but not necessarily in order as follows : the armed struggle, continue the negotiation as pursuance of peaceful means or political settlement of the Bangsamoro problem or Doing nothing. However, he added that the other option is “bringing the Bangsamoro issue into higher level of engagement” but did not elaborate. Nevertheless, he stressed that in case of pursuing the negotiation with the government, they agreed to the “as is where is” principle.
Chairman Iqbal also emphasized that among those identified factors that influenced the non-passage into law of BBL among others as: (1) some vested interest groups and individuals (2) some IP (indigenous people) groups influenced by outside forces (3) there are some extremist Christians. However, the peace process also built support groups like in the case of the remaining living Framers of the 1987 Constitution, the Friends of Peace, the National Peoples Peace Council, the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines and the likes who are very supportive of the GPH-MILF Peace Talks.
The issues above became the bases of CSO Leaders workshop and plenary sessions in identifying their common advocacy which they will implement in their respective areas of coverage of operations for the coming days.
By: Mike Kulat
CBCS Senior Program Officer