Within a record time of just six weeks soon after the start of the Duterte Administration, the new architecture for peace between the government and the Bangsamoro has been drawn and crafted with the initial building blocks immediately set in place by the newly launched peace implementing panels of both the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Kuala Lumpur.
I particularly take special mention of the launching and the initial meetings of the GPH and MILF panels (ably headed by Ms. Irene M. Santiago and Mohaqher Iqbal, respectively) which ended Sunday afternoon , August 14, 2016 in Malaysia in a high and positive note.
In stride with President Duterte’s call for more “inclusivity” in the Bangsamoro peace process as set forth in the new roadmap, the MILF agreed to increase the membership of the so-called Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) from the original 15 to 21 for wider participation. For this we give credit to the MILF under the leadership of Al Haj Murad Ibrahim in bringing this about as their positive acknowledgement of the inclusivity and convergence approach in the road map of peace of President Duterte.
In the joint statement released August 15, 2016 by both panels, we take special note of the following:
- venue of the next meetings will henceforth be in the Philippines with the closure of the negotiations phase and the onset of the implementation stage on the work for peace for the Bangsamoro.
- the immediate re-constitution of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) which is the start-up mechanism to re-craft a proposed new enabling law for submission to Congress in replacement of the failed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) with an increase of its membership from 15 to 21 to allow more participation from stakeholders;
- for the GPH to work for the early passage of the proposed Bangsamoro enabling law in tandem with the monitoring assistance of the MILF;
- for the implementing Panels to craft and determine their own terms of reference; to review the mechanisms on the ground and to align them in accordance with the evolving implementation phase of the peace process;
- for both panels to jointly work on the next steps of the normalization program;
- the immediate holding of a joint strategic planning session of both panels for a better understanding of the legislative track.
The next panel meeting is set August 30, 2016 in Davao City.
These series of fast-paced steps are in line with President Duterte’s avowed commitment to quicken the pace of the peace process to bring about an early and much-needed end to conflict in the region and throughout the land.