ILIGAN CITY—President Aquino on Monday issued an executive order creating a commission that will hammer out a proposed law creating a new autonomous government in Mindanao, the next step to fulfilling an agreement with Moro guerrillas who had given up separatism for broader self-rule.
Executive Order No. 120 creates the Transition Commission that will draft a proposed law to be endorsed by the President to Congress and which would create a new Bangsamoro autonomous government that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) envisions to have broader powers and larger territory than the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
An initial P100 million has been allotted for the commission, which will have 15 members to be appointed by the President. The government and MILF on Oct. 15 signed an agreement that sets in place what peace advocates hope would be lasting peace in war-torn areas of Mindanao.
The agreement, however, is just a step to a more detailed pact that MILF and government negotiators hope to wrap up by the end of this year.
A press statement from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, however, quoted the new head of the government peace panel, Miriam Coronel Ferrer, as saying while the government and MILF hope to wrap up the details of the pact this year, “the panels are cognizant of the remaining amount of detail that still needs to be worked out.”
Ferrer, a University of the Philippines professor who replaced now Supreme Court Justice Marvic Leonen as head of the government panel, said by phone that the commission’s work can proceed side by side with ongoing talks on how much power the new autonomous government can exercise, how much wealth it would keep for itself and share with the national government and how large a territory it would govern.
EO 120 said aside from drafting a proposed law to create a new autonomous government, the commission will also recommend proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution that will remove legal obstacles to the new autonomous setup, help identify development programs needed by the new autonomous government and hold dialogues between national government officials, Moro guerrilla leaders and other stakeholders in the peace process.
Ferrer said the objective “is to install the Bangsamoro … as soon as possible in order to have an elected Bangsamoro government by 2016.”
Ferrer said while the commission can examine the Constitution and recommend changes, “the President has made it clear that constitutional change is not his priority during his term.”
Teresita Quintos-Deles, presidential adviser on the peace process, said in an e-mail statement that EO 120 “affirms the President’s resolve to move forward the peace process.” Ryan Rosauro, Inquirer Mindanao