Terms, details of draft peace agreementBy Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The framework agreement creating the Bangsamoro territory appears to envision a smaller area than the one authorized by its predecessor, a memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD), but the structural changes it seeks to institute will be felt for many generations, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas said Sunday.
Roxas, as a senator in 2008, vehemently opposed the MOA-AD pushed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, which included 735 Muslim majority areas plus a second set of 1,459 villages known as “Special Intervention Areas.”
Section 5 of the new “Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro” says the core territory of Bangsamoro will be composed of:
- The present geographical area of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
- The municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal in the province of Lanao del Norte, and all other barangays in the municipalities of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit and Midsayap that voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite.
- The cities of Cotabato and Isabela.
- All other contiguous areas where there is a resolution of the local government or a petition of at least 10 percent of the qualified voters in the area asking for their inclusion at least two months before the conduct of the ratification of the Bangsamoro basic law and the process of delimitation of the Bangsamoro.
In an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Roxas elaborated on the differences between the new agreement and the old MOA-AD, which was struck down by the Supreme Court for being unconstitutional.
“First, this [process] is transparent. Second, this will pass through Congress—both in the House and the Senate. And after this, the people will be asked through a plebiscite,” Roxas said.
“This will not be compulsory, and is aligned with the President’s principle that ‘you are the Boss.’ The people will be the ones to decide through a plebiscite,” he said.
Roxas stayed with the President in Malacañang until 3 a.m. Sunday to finalize the draft accord.
He expected the agreement to lead to “substantive, structural changes” with the effects of this process to be felt in generations to come.
He noted that the 40-year secessionist struggle had bred extreme poverty and underdevelopment of the war-torn region.
“This is huge, historic. This is not just temporary, but generational,” Roxas said, echoing the President’s desire to have the same social services, level of education and health services available in the rest of the country to be enjoyed as well by residents of impoverished provinces in Mindanao.
The new agreement junked the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity envisioned by the MOA-AD in favor of the “New Autonomous Political Entity (NPE),” to replace the ARMM after the transition period in 2016.
The two sides agreed to have a “ministerial form” of government for Bangsamoro, necessitating possible amendments to the 1987 Constitution.
The 13-page agreement posted on the Official Gazette (http://www.gov.ph/2012/10/
07/the-2012-framework-agreement-on-the-bangsamoro/) broached this subject.
Section 7 (Transition and Implementation) deemed as part of a transitional mechanism the creation of a 15-member Transition Commission “to work 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.”
The Bangsamoro electoral system will allow “democratic participation, ensure accountability of public officers primarily to their constituents and encourage formation of genuinely principled political parties.”
The electoral system will be written into the Bangsamoro basic law, which will be implemented through legislation enacted by the Bangsamoro government and correlated with national laws.
The agreement recognizes the “Bangsamoro identity,” Section 1 of the agreement says.
The same section identifies the Bangsamoro people.
“Those who at the time of conquest and colonization were considered natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands, including Palawan, and their descendants whether of mixed or of full blood shall have the right to identify themselves as Bangsamoro by ascription or self-ascription,” it says, adding that “spouses and their descendants are classified as Bangsamoro.”
“The freedom of choice of other indigenous peoples shall be respected,” it says.
The agreement also calls for a basic law for the new Moro territory to be formulated by the “Bangsamoro people” and ratified in a plebiscite.
It speaks of “reserved powers” for the national government; “exclusive powers” for the Bangsamoro government; and “concurrent powers” by both, but details will be spelled out in the annex on power sharing.
It recognizes the supremacy of the Shariah justice system only to Muslims, but the customary rights and traditions of indigenous peoples will be respected.
The other salient features of the agreement are revenue-generation, wealth-sharing arrangements and fiscal autonomy; basic rights; territorial and proprietary rights; transition and implementation; and normalization, which covers human security, police force, graduated decommissioning of MILF forces, monitoring teams, control of firearms and disbandment of private armies.