Gov’t, MILF ink final peace deal

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Thursday, March 27, 2014


MANILA (Updated) -- Muslim rebels belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a peace deal with the Philippine government on Thursday aimed at ending decades-long strife in impoverished regions of resource-rich Mindanao.

More than 1,000 guests from various sectors of society witnessed the signing of the five-page Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) by the panel members from the government and the MILF in Malacanang, a culmination of 17 years of hard negotiations, which even reached deadlock at some point.

President Benigno Aquino III, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles, MILF chief Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak also showed up for the signing.

Malaysia, which has been criticized over its handling of the mysterious crash of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 bound for Beijing, served as the third party facilitator in the talks.

"We see a promise of a better future, where young men fight poverty and not each other, where people work to build consensus and new identity," said Najib in a speech, noting both the government and MILF have sacrificed so that the people of Mindanao may live free.

The CAB puts together all the agreements signed by both parties: the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the four Annexes and the Addendum, the Ceasefire Agreement of 1997, the Tripoli Agreement in 2001, among others.

The CAB is the blueprint for the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law being prepared by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

To be certified as urgent by the President, the draft law will then be submitted to Congress for scrutiny. The Bangsamoro political entity, which will enjoy enhanced fiscal and political autonomy, will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm).

Roadmap to the creation of Bangsamoro Autonomous Political Entity
(INFOGRAPHIC by www.gov.ph. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE)


Senate President Franklin Drilon said Congress must make sure that the efforts exerted by the peace panels will not be put in vain, by ensuring that the Bangsamoro Law falls within the corners of the Constitution and that it can withstand judicial challenge.

Leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives earlier committed to pass the measure by the end of the year.

“This measure should resolve social tensions, poor infrastructure, and lack of economic development in the region. It will demand from our lawmakers their utmost prudence, practicality and political acumen,” said Drilon.

A plebiscite will be held at the areas identified in the agreement after the law is passed.

These areas are the current provinces and cities in the Armm, the cities of Isabela and Cotabato, six municipalities in Lanao del Norte, and 39 barangays in six municipalities of Cotabato province.

Other geographic areas that are contiguous to the said places and that wish to join the plebiscite may do so through a resolution passed by the local government unit concerned or a petition of at least 10 percent of registered voters in the locality two months before the conduct of the plebiscite.

Aquino said the goal is to have the Bangsamoro Transition Authority in place by 2015, which will serve as interim government until the 2016 elections. The MILF is expected to take part in the polls as a political party.

“This agreement stands as a testament as to how far trust and tenacity can move humanity forward,” he said.

Fighting ignited by Muslim separatists has negatively affected Mindanao’s progress for more than four decades, claiming thousands of lives in the country's second largest island. (Sunnex)

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