'Entrenched interests' stand in way of peace in Mindanao: analyst

Written by ABS-CBN News.

Forging a lasting peace agreement in Mindanao must go beyond the signing an agreement between the Bangsamoro people and the government, an analyst said. 

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Lawyer Benedicto Bacani, executive director of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, said achieving lasting peace will depend on the implementation of the peace agreement, and this may prove to be difficult due to “entrenched political and economic interests.”

“You need to understand the political interests that are at play,” Bacani told ANC on Friday.

How complicated is the Mindanao peace process? Atty. Benedicto Bacani discusses that in this #ANCRecap #ANCEarlyEdition pic.twitter.com/ovvI3UwAfb

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Achieving lasting peace in Mindanao is one of the goals of President Rodrigo Duterte, the first president to come from the region.

Since assuming office, Duterte has rallied focus towards Mindanao and convinced Moro leaders and communist rebels to go back to dialogue with the government.

He has also been meeting separately with leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation front (MNLF), even during the campaign period.

The MNLF reached a peace agreement with the Ramos administration in 1996, and the MILF signed a peace deal under the Aquino administration in 2014. 

Bacani said, unlike in previous administrations, Duterte is the first chief executive to “really go all out” in ironing out a peace deal.

“He’s the first president to really go all out and this is a golden opportunity, maybe a rare opportunity that you have a Mindanaoan president who understands the problem and who considers himself Moro,” he said.

“The president is open to changing the constitution and even the shift from a unitary to federal to accommodate the terms of these peace agreements,” he added.

Bacani, however, noted that reaching an agreement would be difficult since groups tend to hold on to setups that they are comfortable with, while the government would insist on adhering to the tenets of the Constitution.

“President Duterte is very strategic in the sense that if there will be convergence, it will be convergence of the…charter change will resolve major problems,” he said.

At present, Bacani believes that the important thing that the government should do is to begin the transition process in Mindanao even though the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law is still in the works.

“The most important thing is to start the transition process towards the establishment of a Bangsamoro government,” he said.

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