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Muslim, Catholic leaders hail gov’t-MILF peace agreement

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PEACE PROGRESS President Aquino and his adviser on the peace process, Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, exchange pleasantries following an official announcement that the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have agreed on a road map aimed at ending decadeslong separatist insurgency in Mindanao. EDWIN BACASMAS

Muslim and Roman Catholic leaders on Monday hailed the preliminary agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to end four decades of war by creating a Moro homeland in Mindanao.

President Benigno Aquino announced the “framework agreement” on Sunday, saying the deal cleared the way for a “final and enduring peace in Mindanao.”

Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad on Monday said he welcomed the agreement, which he described as a “small step to peace.”

“We have suffered a lot and any small step to peace is a sign of hope for peace,” Jumoad said.

He said the preliminary agreement was good so long as the basis for negotiations was the Constitution.

He added, however, that agreements between the government and the MILF should be submitted to the people for their approval in a plebiscite.

Self-determination

Jaafar Ali, leader of the Darul Ifta (House of Opinion) and founding chair of the National Ulama (Islamic preachers) Council of the Philippines (NUCP), said the preliminary agreement “guaranteed the Bangsamoro people to freely exercise their right to self-determination.”

“It may take some time but at least now we are certain that this government recognizes our people’s dream of self-governance,” Ali said.

Mayor Tocao Mastura of Sultan Kudarat said Muslims in Mindanao  would remember President Aquino as the “instrument” in the achievement of their desire for self-determination.

Making history

“President Aquino has achieved . . . history . . . [with this] great breakthrough [toward] peace in Mindanao, [the] Bangsamoro people will never forget that,” said Mastura, whose town hosts the biggest MILF camp in Maguindanao province.

Cotabato City Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema, chairman of a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) which, in 1996, forged a peace agreement with the government, also welcomed the framework agreement.

“We hope there could be some integration so all the Bangsamoro people will benefit from the dividends of the peace agreement,” he said.

Sema, who is running for reelection in next year’s local elections, said many residents of Cotabato favored the integration of the city into the new political entity, Bangsamoro.

Let people decide

Cotabato City is the seat of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which Bangsamoro would replace as envisioned in the agreement.

“Let the people decide freely through a plebiscite,” said Cotabato City Councilor Wilfrido Bueno, an election lawyer.

Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo said most people in his archdiocese received President Aquino’s announcement of the framework agreement for peace in Mindanao as good news.

Quevedo is a supporter of the peace process and self-determination for the Moro, or Bangsamoro, as Filipino Muslims refer to themselves.

Auxiliary Cotabato Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo said the bureaucratic reforms being instituted in the ARMM should continue “and whatever plans related to peace and development and others concerning expanding Muslim Mindanao should get the nod of the affected inhabitants.”

Other sectors

Quevedo urged the government and the MILF peace panels not to disregard other sectors in Mindanao, the non-Muslims and the indigenous peoples.

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza said she, too, welcomed the framework agreement.

About six villages in North Cotabato’s Muslim-majority  areas may decide to become part of Bangsamoro.

“There’s no problem with that because the people will be asked in a plebiscite and their voices will be heard,” Mendoza said.

 

Referendum guarantee

The “referendum guarantee” in the agreement made many local officials, previously opposed to the integration of their communities into the proposed expanded autonomous region without a plebiscite, support the peace process.

Former North Cotabato Gov. Emmanuel Piñol said forced integration was the bone of contention when he took the Arroyo administration’s proposed peace deal with the MILF to Supreme Court in 2008.

“Now, under President Aquino’s open governance, I’m for it, but the people, especially those directly affected by the expansion should be properly informed before coming up with a wise decision in a referendum,” Piñol, whose native town of Mlang, will also be affected.

“Moro-dominated villages should not be coerced to vote. Every citizen regardless of tribe, creed and political affiliation should be free to choose and express their individual sentiment on the issue,” he said.

In Basilan, Isabela City Mayor Cherrylyn Akbar said she wanted to read the framework agreement first before commenting on the proposed integration of the city into Bangsamoro.

 

Easing of tensions

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday said the preliminary agreement would help to ease tensions in the ARMM.

“[The agreement] should lessen the tension there for the ARMM elections now that they know they are expanding,” Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said.

Brillantes predicted that with or without the agreement, the balloting in the ARMM would be the most peaceful in the region’s history.

“[T]he factions there are already making peace with each other,” Brillantes said.

No effect on elections

He said the breakthrough in the peace negotiations between the government and the MILF would not affect the Comelec’s preparations for elections in the ARMM.

The ARMM will not be immediately dissolved, he said, as a law must first be passed to create Bangsamoro. And then there will be a plebiscite that the Comelec will oversee.

“This will all happen after the 2013 elections,” Brillantes said. With reports from Edwin Fernandez, Charlie Señase and Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao


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Tags: ARMM , Bangsamoro , Benigno Aquino , Government , Insurgency , MILF , Mindanao , peace process , Politics , rebellion , Religion


  • Datukalun

    how can milf and milf breakaways and katos troop guarantee peace they are still one because their people are sometimes the milf the abus the break away and katos man too..They are afraid of the so called election because they might not win they where not there for the true cause but for their peronal ambition not for the people or for the country…

  • Aris Kalayaan

    The intention of this agreement (2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro political region) may be good but its implementation will do more harm to the nation.

    The following are some of the defects in this agreement:
    1.  The government Bangsamoro wants is not what is    specified in the Philippine Constitution.
    2.  Inclusion of political territory as small as a barangay will weaken the local governments.  It will lead to the splitting of municipalities. 
    3.  The whole country may end up part of Bangsamoro in the long run.  The Bangsamoro government can device a program of populating a barangay not under its jurisdiction with Bangsamoro people then ask for its inclusion to the Bansamoro territory when they are already the majority.
    4.  The Transition Commission is  a discrimination against non-Bangsamoro living in the territory as it deny them representation.

    • Handiong

      Where did you get all these conclusions?

      1.  What is it that the Bangsamoro wants that is against the Constitution?

      2.  So what if municipalities are split? They even split provinces.

      3.  You’re kidding, aren’t you? Okay, just to humor you, since the vast majority of the country are Christians, they can always overwhelmingly populate Muslim towns and even provinces and take them out of Bangsamoro, can’t they? But, you know, this is not how it works.

      4.  The Transition Commission will be appointed by the President and it will include all stakeholders, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The Commission has not even been formed and you’re already calling it discriminatory.

      Obviously, you are simply imagining and making things up.

      • Aris Kalayaan

        Have you already read the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro political region?  If you do, you will know that it is not simply an imagination.

      • Handiong

        I’ve read it and I don’t see it the way you do. It is just a framework, a roadmap, that have to be fleshed out. The negotiations have not ended. both sides will still have to talk to agree on the details.

        The significance of the Framework Agreement is that both sides have now agreed on the principles that will guide them in their future negotiations to finally build a working entity called “Bangsamoro”.

        So, how can you see details that are not there? 

      • Aris Kalayaan

        If you really read the framework agreement, you can see the defects i am talking to.  And if there is no opposition to it, it will become parts of the final agreement.

      • Handiong

        Everything in the framework agreement has already been agreed on. But it has yet to be fleshed out. What is crucial will be the details in the basic or organic act that will be drafted by the Transition Commission and that will be submitted to Congress for ratification.

        A peace agreement is necessarily a product of compromises. Any side who is intransigent can never come to an agreement. Concessions have been given by both sides. These are the price that they have to pay for peace. The alternative is continuous warfare.

        What you have expressed are just fears, not facts. What you have seen are phantoms, not realities. Nothing can be achieved by fear except paralysis. It is only the brave, the courageous, the audacious, the daring, the risk-taker who can achieve great things. The most insecure are those who always play it safe.

        Give the framework agreement the chance to work that it deserves. We gave the Tripoli Agreement the same opportunity, but its product that is the ARMM has proven to be a failure. This new agreement is a vastly different one. We can only get different results by doing things differently.

        Only hope and optimism will drive us forward. Despair and pessimism can only grind us to the ground.

      • Aris Kalayaan

        A true and lasting peace can only be achieve if it is just and no group is discriminated or marginalized.  That’s why we have to voice our opposition to the defects in the said agreement.  Why should we wait for a regrettable reality if we have the chance to prevent it from happening.

      • Handiong

        You have not substantiated the “defects” that you are talking about. They are merely your personal opinions. Substantiate the 4 items you enumerated above so that I may be convinced.

      • Aris Kalayaan

        The following are some defects in the framework agreement:

        Article I Section 2 :The Parties agree to entrench an electoral system suitable to a ministerial form of government. The electoral system shall allow democratic participation, ensure accountability of public officers primarily to their constituents and encourage formation of genuinely principled political parties. The electoral system shall be contained in the Bangsamoro Basic Law to be implemented through legislation enacted by the Bangsamoro Government and correlated with national laws.Under 1987 Philippine Constitution,
        Article 10 Section 18. The Congress shall enact an organic act for each autonomous region with the assistance and participation of the regional consultative commission composed of representatives appointed by the President from a list of nominees from multi-sectoral bodies. The organic act shall define the basic structure of government for the region consisting of the executive department and legislative assembly, both of which shall be elective and representative of the constituent political units. The organic acts shall likewise provide for special courts with personal, family, and property law jurisdiction consistent with the provisions of this Constitution and national laws.
        It is the duty of Philippine Congress not by the Bangsamoro Government to enact the law.  The organic act forms the foundation of a government including its basic law.

        Article V Section 1. The core territory of the Bangsamoro shall be composed of: (a) the present geographical area of the ARMM; (b) 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; (c) the cities of Cotabato and Isabela; and (d) all other contiguous areas where there is a resolution of the local government unit or a petition of at least ten percent (10%) of the qualified voters in the area asking for their inclusion at least two months prior to the conduct of the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the process of delimitation of the Bangsamoro as mentioned in the next paragraph.
        Although it is within the Constitution, inclusion of a political territory as small as a barangay will weaken the local governments contiguous to Bangsamoro territory.

        Article V Section 3. Areas which are contiguous and outside the core territory where there are substantial populations of the Bangsamoro may opt anytime to be part of the territory upon petition of at least ten percent (10%) of the residents and approved by a majority of qualified voters in a plebiscite.
        As i stated earlier, this provision may be subjected to abuse and manipulation to gain territories.

        Article VII Section 5. The Transition Commission shall be composed of fifteen (15) members all of whom are Bangsamoro. Seven (7) members shall be selected by the GPH and eight (8) members, including the Chairman, shall be selected by the MILF.
        This is discriminatory as it denies representation from non-Bangsamoro living in the proposed territory.

  • ApoLapullapu

    Let us give the peace agreement  a chance to achieve a lasting peace in Mindanao.  The only problem is the form of government proposed since it does not conform with the Constitution. However, a Constitutional amendment may be done and adoption of a parliamentary form of government nationwide may be in order.  The Filipinos who oppose a shift to a parliamentary form of government are just afraid that a government like the bastardized Parliament under Marcos might be adopted.

    • Handiong

      Article X, Section 18 of the Constitution empowers the Congress to define the basic structure of government of an autonomous region. The Constitution does not specify what kind of structure it should be. It’s for the Congress to define. If the Congress will choose a parliamentary form of government as the basic structure for Bangsamoro, it will not violate the Constitution, because the Congress will just be exercising its constitutional power. And if the Congress will choose a parliamentary form of government for Bangsamoro, it will not apply to the entire country. The power of the Congress to define the basic structure of government under Artticle X, Section 18 applies only to the autonomous regions, not to the entire country.

      The only constitutional limitation imposed on the power of the Congress to define the basic structure of government of an autonomous region is that there should be elective executive and legislative departments.

      In the case of Bangsamoro, if a parliamentary form of government is chosen, the people will  directly elect representatives to a Legislative Assembly, and these representatives will elect the Chief Executive who will be called the Chief Minister. While the Chief Minister will be indirectly elected by the people, he or she will be elective just the same.

  • ah_ok_fine12

    basta sa ikakabuti ng lahat go for it..  instead na puro paninira- let us all support the peace agreement, baka sakaling my magawa tayong maganda for our country 

  • joboni96

    may tututol pa rin
    ang mga mawawalan

    mawawalan ng
    1. cutkong
    2. poder
    3. pansin
    4. kita

    pero iilan ang mga swapang na mga ito

    autonomy for the bangsamoro and
    participation at the national level

    ng mas malakas tayong haharap sa
    sea and islands grab ng intsik switik at
    recolonization ng imperyalistang u.s.

    sama na rin ndf biff abusayyaf atbp

  • RealityCheckX

    Premature announcement. And any town or city can secede from the republic if 10% are Muslims. Why won’t the conquered accept that they are a minority with no right to impose feudal Mohammedan law and alien holidays on the rest of a Catholic nation?

  • pepengkabayo

    Where was the MNLF in the negotiation. Misauri is crying foul.
    I thought there is already peace.
     

  • Alexis_Ferro

    There will be no peace. They will ask for more.

  • Olibo

    I hope its not  Israeli-Palestinian like peace deal, after couple of weeks bombing and raid occur again.Allahoakbar! Mabuhay! Enshalla……….



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