Saturday, January 25, 2014

TIMELINE: The long road to the Bangsamoro region

From Rappler (Jan 25): TIMELINE: The long road to the Bangsamoro region

More than a year after a framework agreement was signed in October 2012, the Bangsamoro region moves a step closer to reality.

It's been a 16-year journey.

In 1996, the Ramos government held the first exploratory talks with the MILF, culminating in the signing of a "general cessation of hostilities" between the two parties in July 1997.

But the road to peace before 2010, when President Benigno Aquino III assumed power, was marked by deadlocks, conflicts and persistent efforts by other armed groups to derail it.

Former president Joseph Estrada mobilized the entire armed forces to crush the MILF and bring down its seat of power in Camp Abubabakar, central Mindanao, in 2000.

His successor, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo resumed negotiations with the group, taking a bold step in crafting a draft agreement that triggered widespread opposition from lawmakers and various sectors and which the Supreme Court later on declared as unconstitutional.

The MILF, too, went through a difficult period with the death of its charismatic leader, Hashim Salamat, in 2003. Replacing him as chairman was the military chief of the rebel organization at the time, Ibrahim Murad.

What happened since then?



July 15 - MalacaƱang announces the appointment of then UP College of Law dean Marvic Leonen as the government's chief negotiator in the peace talks.


September 7 - Presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles announces that Aquino has formed an advisory body to assist government negotiators in the peace talks. The body is composed of "members from both Houses of Congress, retired justices of the Supreme Court, members of the 1987 Constitutional Commission, local governments in strife-affected areas, non-government organizations involved in peace efforts, and the former chairmen of previous peace panels."



August 4 - MILF chair Murad "Al Haj" Ebrahim holds an unprecedented meeting with Aquino in Tokyo, Japan. Both agree to expedite the peace process.



October 7 - The Philippine government and the MILF concludes the 32nd round of exploratory talks with a framework agreement that will create a Bangsamoro region.
(READ: 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro political region)

October 15 - The Aquino administration and the MILF sign the peace agreement in MalacaƱang. It marks the first time the rebel group steps into the country’s seat of power.


November 12 - The 33rd round of peace talks opens, with the main agenda focusing on details of the Three Annexes on Power-Sharing, Wealth-Sharing and Normalization of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

This round ends without any agreement being signed.


December 12 - The panels convene for the 34th round of peace talks, marking the first time that professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer is taking the helm as the government peace panel chair after being appointed to replace now Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.

December 16 - The 34th round of peace talks concludes with a "technical impasse" over the issue on whether the MILF should lead the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

December 17 - President Benigno Aquino III signs Executive Order 120 creating the 15-member Transition Commission that will craft the Bangsamoro Basic Law.



January 21 - The 35th round of peace talks begins, with both parties expected to settle the "technical impasse" on who will lead the Bangsamoro Transition Authority -- the only unresolved issue in the annex on transitional arrangements and modalities.

January 25 - Both panels sign a document outlining the terms of reference for the Third-Party Monitoring Team that will 'review, assess, evaluate and monitor' the implementation of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.


February 14 - Malaysian security forces summon dozens of suspected Abu Sayyaf members in a remote area with a history of incursions by armed Filipino Islamic groups.

February 25 - As the 36th round of peace talks begin, President Benigno Aquino III names the members of the Transition Commission (TransCom) that will draft the basic law that would pave the way for the Bangsamoro political identity.
(READ: Meet the members of the Transition Commission)

February 27 - The Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities is signed before the last session of the 36th round of peace talks ends.

The parties also agree under the Framework Agreement to form an Independent Commission on Policing (ICP), which will submit recommendations on how the relationship between the Philippine National Police and Bangsamoro police should work.


March 25 - The government asks the MILF to postpone the 37th round of peace talks to allow it more time to review the annexes.


April 3 - The 15-member Transition Commission convenes for the first time.

April 9 - The 37th round of peace talks finally starts, with only discussions on the annex on normalization remaining at the level of the technical working groups.

April 11 - This round ends without any agreement being signed.

April 30 - The Transition Commission agrees on the process to be followed in establishing the inner workings of the commission, including its organizational chart and internal rules and regulations.


July 6 - The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a splinter guerrilla group, ambushes an army truck and attacks an army camp a day before peace talks resume.

July 8 - Panels proceed with the 38th round of peace talks, with the MILF returning to the negotiating table "with guarded optimism."

July 11 - The 38th round of talks ends without any agreement, with the MILF peace panel members leaving the venue in a huff.

Afterwards, they agree to return and extend the talks, in an attempt to seal the deal on wealth-sharing.

July 12 - Parties fail to arrive at any agreement and agree to extend again the talks for one more day.

July 13 - Parties sign the annex on wealth-sharing. Among others, the agreement gives automatic appropriations to the Bangsamoro, as well as a 75% share on taxes and revenues from metallic minerals.


August 22 - The 39th round of talks starts, with the last two annexes topping the agenda.

August 25 - No agreement is signed after this round, but both panels release a joint statement that expresses confidence that the final peace pact will be completed soon.


September 9 - Up to 400 suspected members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) take over 4 barangays in Zamboanga City.

September 10 - The 40th round of peace talks is opened, with the government peace panel nearly missing their flight to Kuala Lumpur after Aquino called for an emergency meeting following the siege of Zamboanga City.

September 19 - The panels decide to extend the session for one more day, though both parties feel that it is unlikely that a document will be signed and completed this round.

September 20 - The 40th phase of talks end without signing a deal on power-sharing and normalization. Proposed changes to the annex – both from the government and the MILF – extend discussions, described to be "generally constructive" during this round.


October 8 - Parties hold the 41st round of talks, as Zamboanga City recovers from the bloody siege by rebel forces associated with a faction of the MILF's rival group, the Moro National Liberation Front.

October 11 - Peace panels from both parties extend their talks for another day.

October 13 - The 41st round of peace talks ends. Parties fail to complete the power-sharing annex.


December 5 - The 42nd round of peace talks opens, with power-sharing being the agenda.

December 8 - The panels sign the annex on power-sharing, but without a deal on the so-called "Bangsamoro waters" – the most contentious issue in the peace talks.



January 22 - Negotiations continue at the 43rd round of peace talks to discuss what to do with firearms and what will happen next to the people who will lay down their arms.

January 24 - The panels arrive at a deal on how power will be shared over "Bangsamoro waters."

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