Bangsamoro basic law will replace ARMM, says LeonenBy Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Bangsamoro basic law will replace the organic act that created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), according to the government’s chief peace negotiator with Moro rebels.
The organic act, Republic Act No. 9054, “will be changed in its entirety,” Marvic Leonen, head of the government peace panel, told reporters on Thursday night.
“There will be a Bangsamoro basic law and it is also possible that the Bangsamoro basic law will take what is good in the ARMM organic act,” Leonen said.
“Only one law will exist. The Bangsamoro basic law should be designed to replace the organic act,” Leonen said.
Under the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Monday, a Transition Commission will write the basic law that will create a new autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao, the Bangsamoro.
President Benigno Aquino III will certify the draft basic law as an urgent bill then submit it to Congress for enactment.
The final approval of the basic law is by plebiscite, after which a Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) will be established to replace the ARMM government.
Once the BTA is established, the ARMM is deemed abolished.
The creation of the ARMM is part of a peace agreement that the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) signed with the government in 1996.
For that reason, MNLF leader Nur Misuari frowns on the Bangsamoro agreement, threatening to question it in the International Court of Justice.
But other MNLF officials, including Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema, favor the Bangsamoro deal, although they want to know how it can be brought into harmony with the 1996 peace agreement.
Told about the query, Leonen said government consultations with the MNLF had produced “consensus points,” among which is giving the MNLF seats on the Transition Commission.
Representation on the commission will ensure that MNLF interest will be dealt with in the formulation of the Bangsamoro basic law.
There should be no problem with the MILF, an offshoot of the MNLF, as the MILF wants the peace deal “to be inclusive,” Leonen said.
Leonen said the government and the MNLF had “agreed upon the process” toward a final peace accord with the MILF.
Talks with MNLF
Consultations between the government and the MNLF are carried out through three-corner talks involving Indonesia and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Peace Commission for Southern Philippines (OIC-PCSP).
Among the topics of discussions in the talks are infirmities in the ARMM organic act.
The OIC, however, has recognized the framework agreement between the government and the MILF. OIC secretary general Ekmeleddin Ishanoglu was present at the signing of the agreement in Malacañang on Monday.
Leonen said the government was also talking to Misuari, who said the Bangsamoro deal was illegal and refused to serve on the Transition Commission.
Misuari’s role, however, “will depend on the decision of the MNLF as a whole and will depend on the talks with the government,” Leonen said.
Leonen stressed that the policy of the government in finding lasting peace in Mindanao is “convergence.”
“It wants to be able to find the best common denominator among the groups,” Leonen said. “We think [the MNLF and the MILF] will remain separate, but at least there will be convergence as to how to proceed with respect to the Bangsamoro.”