Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bangsamoro transition team to hold info campaign in Zambo, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi

From the Zamboanga Today (Feb 12): Bangsamoro transition team to hold info campaign in Zambo, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi

The 15-man Bangsamoro Transition Commission will visit Zamboanga City this week for an information campaign to update and keep the public well informed on the status and developments of the peace process between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

A source said the Transition Commission will visit the city to inform status of their mission and to help explain about their work on the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law with provisions consistent with all agreements entered and that may be entered into by the Parties.

The source said the visit aims at conducting talks over developments of the Transition Commission’s mission. But it did not say whether the province of Basilan including its component city, Isabela, is included or not in the itinerary of BTC.

All leaders and stakeholders including the local government officials in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi will also discuss what has been agreed by the government and the MILF in so far the final annexes on normalization and addendum on the Bangsamoro waters.

Sulu Rep. Habib Tupay Loong, chairman of the House Committee on Muslim Affairs, confirmed the visit of GPH and MILF peace panels to the provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

He said he received an invitation from the provincial government of Sulu informing him that the GPH and the MILF peace panels  will be in Sulu on February 13, Thursday, for a public hearing.

“I understand after Sulu, they will proceed to Tawi-Tawi,” said Loong, adding that the visiting peace team will be headed by the chairmen of the GPH and the MILF panels Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Mohagher Iqbal.

“Their principal purpose of going to Sulu is to inform the people on what is being agreed by the government of the Republic of the Philippines and the MILF. So we have to wait for the result of their report on what transpired therein in the final annexes on normalizationt,” Loong said.

Asked about his impression on the on going peace process, Loong said: “The government with the OIC, MNLF and the MILF should sit down together and discuss carefully all the differences of the two Fronts.”

Loong said he wants government and the MILF to incorporate the 42 consensus points that had been agreed upon by government, MNLF and Organization of Islamic Conference in the tripartite review, which have been engaged by the concerned parties since November 2007.

According to Loong, “This (42 consensus points) must be incorporated in the proposed Organic Act so that the advocacy of the MNLF will become part on the Bangsamoro basic law that we are going to ratify. If they’re going to abolish the ARMM, which is considered as a fruit of sacrifices of the MNLF, without incorporating the 42 consensus points the MNLF will feel as if they are taken for granted, but what foresee this will (issues) be discussed properly and extensively before this will be discussed in the final forum (in the committee level and in the plenary).”

However, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Teresita Deles earlier shrugged off the critics’ claims that they abrogated the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.

Stressing that the government wishes to incorporate into the proposed Bangsamoro basic law all the best features of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement, as well as those in the Organic Act on the ARMM or Republic Act [RA] 9054, Deles explained that the government had adopted the 42 consensus points agreed upon during the tripartite process involving the Philippine government, the MNLF and the OIC.

“These consensus points have already been conveyed to the Bangsamoro Transition Commission that is tasked to prepare the draft bill to be submitted to the President and Congress,” Deles said.

The proposed political entity or Bangsamoro ministerial government is facing resistance from the majority people of Zamboanga City who opted not to be part in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in 2007 and 2001 plebiscites.

It is also opposed by Nur Misuari-led MNLF faction and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a disgruntled faction of the MILF.

Former mayor now Congressman Celso Lobregat of the 1st district of Zamboanga City questioned the legality of the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and its four annexes. He said there are “gray areas” in the FAB, which need public scrutiny

The FAB, comprised of four annexes – the modalities and transitional arrangements, wealth sharing, power sharing, and normalization, or the decommissioning of rebels and introduction of programs to help them, will  pave the way for the establishment of the Bangsamoro political entity.

Lobregat  has  always criticized the government-MILF talks since he was mayor of Zamboanga City for three consecutive terms, prior to his election as congressman in 2013.

The BTC is eyeing a March 31 deadline to complete the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Its main task: Rework the four annexes of the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement into specific legislative measures. This will then serve as the legal basis for the creation of the proposed Bangsamoro government.

The BTC is also working on proposals to amend the Philippine Constitution for the purpose of accommodating and entrenching in the constitution the agreements of the Parties whenever necessary without derogating from any prior peace agreements.

It is also tasked to coordinate whenever necessary development programs in Bangsamoro communities in conjunction with the MILF Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) and other agencies.

Since it was created in April last year, the Transition Commission has conducted several formal sessions and other informal gatherings.

A referendum that will define the Bangsamoro government’s core territory should be held at least by early next year.

The Commission is moving heaven and earth to stay on track, since the ultimate goal is to have the new political entity in place by 2016.

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