Government, Moro rebels agree on peace draft-A A +A
Sunday, October 7, 2012
MANILA (3rd Update) -- President Benigno Aquino III said Sunday that the government has reached a “framework agreement” with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that would pave the way for lasting peace in Mindanao.
Aquino described the deal in a nationally televised announcement as a road map for establishing a new autonomous region to be administered by minority Muslims in Mindanao. This new political entity will be called “Bangsamoro.”
He lauded the efforts of everyone involved in the peace process, saying the framework agreement is a major breakthrough toward reaching a final peace deal.
“The Armm (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) is a failed experiment. Many of the people continue to feel alienated by the system, and those who feel that there is no way out will continue to articulate their grievances through the barrel of a gun. We cannot change this without structural reform,” Aquino said his speech over government-run People’s Television Network around 1 p.m. Sunday.
“This is the context that informed our negotiations throughout the peace process. And now, we have forged an agreement that seeks to correct these problems. It defines our parameters and our objectives, while upholding the integrity and sovereignty of our nation,” he added.
He said the name “Bangsamoro” symbolizes and honors “the struggles of our forebears in Mindanao, and celebrates the history and character of that part of our nation.”
The framework agreement was concluded during the 32nd formal exploratory peace talks facilitated by panel chairs -- Marvic Leonen of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Mohagher Iqbal of the MILF -- in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, which started last October 2.
This round of talks is the 13th under the two-year rule of the Aquino administration and is considered the longest in terms of session days.
President Aquino said a basic law will be drafted by a transition commission and this will go through the full process of legislation in Congress.
He vowed to support the law that will embody the values and aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.
“Any proposed law resulting from this framework will be subject to ratification through a plebiscite. Once approved, there will be elections,” he said, adding that other Bangsamoro stakeholders will be brought in to the process.
He said the “National Government will continue to exercise exclusive powers of defense and security, foreign policy, monetary policy and coinage, citizenship, and naturalization.”
“The Constitution and lawful processes shall govern the transition to the Bangsamoro, and this agreement will ensure that the Philippines remains one nation and one people, with all of our diverse cultures and narratives seeking the common goal,” he added.
Aquino also assured the Bangsamoro people of “a fair and equitable share of taxation, revenues, and the fruits of national patrimony.”
“They will enjoy equal protection of laws and access to impartial justice,” he said.
In an interview with Presidential Adviser on Peace Process chief Teresita Deles, she said the agreement will be signed on October 15 in Malacanang.
Deles said the “Bangsamoro” will include provinces under the jurisdiction of the Armm, as well as six municipalities of Lanao del Norte, barangays in six municipalities in North Cotabato, Cotabato City, and Isabela City in Basilan.
The text of the framework agreement, meanwhile, will be on the Official Gazette anytime Sunday. Below is the draft agreement between the Philippine government and MILF.
President Aquino encouraged everyone to join public discourse regarding the agreement before it will be signed.
He said the government will be transparent to avoid the repeat of what happened to the GPH-MILF Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), which the High Court declared unconstitutional in 2008 for lack of transparency and violation of Constitution.
The Chief Executive is also hoping that the framework agreement would eventually bring all former secessionist groups into the fold.
He is also optimistic that Filipinos and foreigners would soon consider Bangsamoro as one of the top places to go to in the Philippines.
Aquino thanked MILF head Al Haj Murad and negotiating panel chair Iqbal for trusting the government.
“They recognized our administration's sincerity, and our shared principles and aspirations. Together, we traversed the distance between us until we finally met in a handshake and an embrace as fellow citizens of the Philippines,” he said.
He also lauded the government of Malaysia, who stood as facilitators for the peace talks.
He also acknowledged the help of the international contract group, international non-governmental organizations, international monitoring team and the support of World Bank and the United States.
The President likewise noted the “tireless efforts” of Secretary Ging Deles, Dean Marvic Leonen and their staff in handling the peace process.
Leonen is expected to be back from Malaysia on Monday and he is set to hold a press conference in Malacanang.
Asked for comment, Senator Franklin Drilon welcomed the forging of a framework agreement, saying that will open doors of opportunities for much-needed livelihood and socio-economic programs in the entire Mindanao.
Drilon, a former justice and executive secretary, also lauded the government and the MILF for exercising transparency and consultations with the stakeholders in forging a peace agreement.
“The negotiations, in my view, are characterized by transparency and proper consultations with the people of Mindanao which are very essential for a peace pact to be fully and effectively implemented,” said Drilon, who, in 2008, brought to the Supreme Court the signing of MOA-AD as it lacked transparency and violated the Constitution.
Drilon also echoed the invitation of the President to the Filipino people to examine the agreement and to participate in public discourses before the signing of the agreement.
“The problems of Mindanao, particularly the high poverty incidence and the poor infrastructures, have been aggravated by the decades-long insurgencies and armed conflicts in the region. They could not be addressed successfully if a peace accord is not signed by the government and the MILF,” said Drilon, who also served as a consultant to the peace process during the administrations of the late President Corazon Aquino and former President Fidel Ramos.
“The signing of the peace agreement will help solve delays in the implementation of infrastructure projects and fast-track government’s efforts to boost and upgrade agricultural, tourism and commercial infrastructures in Mindanao,” he added.
He also said that even Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson admitted his agency has been facing problems in implementing key infrastructure projects in Armm because of peace and order problems.
He noted that under the proposed P2.006-trillion 2013 national budget, P258.4 billion has been allocated for Mindanao.
In the P165.6 billion 2013 budget of the Public Works department, 26.4 percent of it, which is equivalent to P43.72 billion, will go to Mindanao to ramp up the construction of roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects basically meant to uplift the condition of the region.
Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate Committee on Peace and Unification, also welcomed the development in the peace process, saying the deal is a way to address the legitimate grievances and claims of the Bangsamoro people, and the sentiments of other stakeholders on the ground. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)