Dureza assures wide consultations on Bangsamoro peace

Written by Carolyn O. Arguillas, MindaNews.

“Wide consultations on how to craft the Bangsamoro peace road map” will be conducted when the Duterte administration takes over on June 30, lawyer Jesus G. Dureza, the returning Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (PAPP), said.

Mr. Dureza, who had served as PAPP (July 2005 to June 2008) under the Arroyo administration and was named to the same post by incoming president Rodrigo R. Duterte, issued this statement Thursday in reply to a query by MindaNews as media pronouncements of incoming Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon D. Alvarez, Mr. Duterte’s candidate for House speaker, drew criticism, especially from the Moro people.


Mr. Alvarez was quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Thursday as saying that the peace processes with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) are “back to square one,” contrary to Mr. Duterte’s campaign promise that he would honor peace agreements and correct the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro.

The Philippine government (GPH) under the outgoing Aquino administration signed on March 27, 2014 the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with the MILF after 17 years of peace negotiations that started during the Ramos administration. In 1976, the Marcos administration, signed with the MNLF the Tripoli Agreement of Dec. 23, 1976, and the Ramos administration completed it with the signing on Sept. 2, 1996 of the Final Peace Agreement (FPA).

The incoming Duterte administration has to deal with these two peace agreements, both of them on the implementation phase -- the CAB, two years after the signing, and the last remaining issues of the FPA after 20 years.

Mr. Alvarez was also quoted as saying “there’s no more need” for a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) because “that’s moot already. There’s no point to it anymore” in view of the plan to amend the 1987 Constitution to shift to a federal system.

He said by midterm elections or by 2019, the proposed amendments should have been submitted to a referendum. “Before the end of his (Duterte’s) term, we should be in transition, and, hopefully when he steps down, we have a new form of government,” the Inquirer report quoted Mr. Alvarez as saying.

In his interview Thursday in Karen Davila’s Headstart over the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC), Mr. Alvarez said there is no need for a BBL because “it will be replaced by a federal form of government.”

He also said the Aquino administration “took the MILF for a ride with the unrealistic promise of passing the BBL as part of the peace process without Charter change.”

“How can you implement the provisions of the BBL without amending the Constitution?,” Mr. Alvarez asked, adding there are provisions in the BBL that are contrary to the 1987 Constitution and would have been struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

To rectify this, Mr. Alvarez said in the ANC interview the 17th Congress under Mr. Duterte will amend the Constitution “to provide what is inside the agreement of the BBL.”

ALVAREZ’S STAND OR DUTERTE’S?

For his part, Mohagher Iqbal, MILF peace panel chair, asked: “Kanya [Alvarez] ba ’yan or kayDuterte? (Is that Mr. Alvarez’s stand or Mr. Duterte’s?)”

In his campaign sorties, Mr. Duterte, the lone Mindanawon presidential candidate, would tell the crowd his grandmother was a Maranao and he has grandchildren who are Tausug. He would spend time to talk about Philippine history from the point of view of Mindanao and how the Moro people have been marginalized and minoritized and how important it is to “correct the historical injustice.”

Mr. Duterte visited Camp Darapanan on Feb. 27 and was received by MILF 1st Vice-Chair Ghazali Jaafar and the Central Committee.

Mr. Duterte told them that he would propose amending the Constitution to change the system of government into federalism but “if it takes time, and if only to defuse tension, in my government I will convince Congress to pass the BBL then make it as a template for federal states.”

At the Cotabato City plaza rally on the same day, Mr. Duterte stressed the need to correct the historical injustices committed against the Moro people and vowed that under his administration, “we will try to go federalism. ’Yang Bagsamoro sa mapa ngayon, ’wag nang galawin ’yan. Gawin na lang nating example na makopya sa lahat. Ang mangyayari nito, uunahin ko na lang pakiusapan ko ang Congress na we will pass the BBL (The Bangsamoro on the map now, let’s not touch that anymore. Let’s make it an example for the rest to copy. I will immediately ask Congress to pass the BBL).”

Mr. Duterte said he will also tell Nur Misuari “kopyahin na lang natin sila para sa Mindanao at buong Pilipinas (Let’s copy that in Mindanao and in the rest of the Philippines).”

Mr. Misuari, whom Mr. Duterte considers a friend, is founding chair of the MNLF with whom the government signed a Final Peace Agreement in 1996 and whose implementation has yet to be fully completed.

In the last presidential debate on April 24, Mr. Duterte said “nothing will appease the Moro people if you do not give them the BBL.”

BANGSAMORO LENS

Amina Rasul, chair of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID), said federalism does not render the BBL moot.

“First, it will take time for federalism to be approved as the process for constitutional amendment cannot be rushed. Second, federalism does not automatically grant the genuine autonomy that the Moro liberation fronts (MNLF and MILF) have fought for,” Ms. Rasul toldMindaNews.

She also noted that Spain has a strong federal system with an autonomous region, Catalonia, and that even with a federal system, “regional governments and Catalonia are critical of the federal system, particularly of government spending which does not give them revenue-raising authority.”

Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo of the Bangsamoro Study Group (BSG), a member of the GPH-MILF Joint Normalization Committee and part of the technical team of the MILF peace panel that negotiated the CAB, said “what needs to be understood clearly by the Moro people as well as some morons is that the lens for Bangsamoro self-determination as espoused in the CAB and the BBL is correcting historical injustice and not merely decentralization as espoused in federalism.

“It is an affirmation of the historical fact of a distinct identity for the Moros and the fact that they were independent states even before a Philippine state was ever conceived, that a historical injustice was committed by the Filipinos and the Philippine state by depriving the Moros both of their identity and freedom to chart their own destiny,” he added.

“The only way to address this, as correctly pointed out by Duterte in his campaign, is to correct this historical injustice,” Mr. Sinarimbo said.

WRONG SIGNAL

Robert Maulana Alonto, a member of the MILF peace panel and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission which drafted the BBL, said Mr. Alvarez’s statement is “giving the wrong signal to the Moro people on the ground.”

He said the Bangsamoro people supported and overwhelmingly voted for Mr. Duterte, “but some politicians who are now jockeying for positions under his administration are already reversing and/or nullifying the principles that [Mr. Duterte] has committed himself to vis-a-vis the resolution of the Bangsamoro Question.”

“We welcome the establishment of federalism as the best alternative to the status quo. There ought to be no argument here. But the politicians who now want to ingratiate themselves with Digong Duterte are doing so at the expense of the President-Elect’s commitment to the Bangsamoro people,” Mr. Alonto said.

“What sets apart the Bangsamoro people from the other nations comprising the Philippine State is that the Moros struggled, fought and bled to recover their right to self-determination,” he said.

He said they want Mr. Duterte to correct the historical injustice as he promised and the matter of which comes first -- the BBL or federalism -- “is not a chicken or egg issue” because the CAB-BBL is “a product of political negotiations; it is a product of a signed agreement between the MILF and the GPH.”

“As such, government is duty-bound to implement it. To make it ‘irrelevant’ as Alvarez claims because of federalism is to sidetrack, nay nullify, this political agreement, and will not sit well with the Bangsamoro people and the Moro liberation movement,” he added.

Randolph Parcasio, spokesperson of the MNLF under founding chair Nur Misuari, said “maybe he [Mr. Alvarez] needs to be thoroughly updated so give him time to digest more the ongoing peace process.”

“When the dust of euphoria settles down, we get down to business. The MNLF waited for two decades then it unconditionally supported Duterte because just like the majority among Moro and Mindanawon the MNLF sees hope at last… So gamay ng pasinsya pa [a little more patience],” Mr. Parcasio said.

Source: Business World