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Drafting a new autonomous law: Aquino seeking balance

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OZAMIZ CITY—The Aquino administration wants a balance of voices among the Bangsamoro when it fills up seats in the 15-member Transition Commission (Transcom), the body that would craft the charter of the future political entity designed to address the Moro people’s aspiration for self-governance, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles said.

In an e-mailed statement to the Inquirer, Deles said the government would like the Transcom to have “gender, ethnic and generational balance.”

“This is to ensure that the voices of all Bangsamoro stakeholders, including women, indigenous peoples and the youth, will be part of the Transcom that will craft the basic law,” she said.

The creation of the Transcom was provided by the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, which President Aquino and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Murad Ebrahim signed in October last year.

The body will be composed of 15 members, whom Mr. Aquino will appoint based on recommendations made by the MILF and the government peace panels.

Deles said the government nominees to the Transcom had already been vetted by a search committee, while the names of those nominated by the MILF have been forwarded to the government peace panel during recent meetings held in Kuala Lumpur.

“The parties have already listed their nominees for the Transcom, and their clearances, along with their profiles, will be submitted to the President,” Deles said.

Government and MILF negotiators expect the Transcom to be formally organized in the next few weeks.

Once drafted, the Bangsamoro basic law will be certified urgent by the President and submitted to Congress, Deles said.

The draft charter will then be submitted to a plebiscite in the envisioned core territory of the Bangsamoro. Upon the charter’s ratification, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) would be deemed abolished.

Meanwhile, a senior Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) official has reiterated his warning about supposed imminent problems should the provisions of the 1996 peace deal his group signed with the government are kept unenforced in the final peace agreement with the MILF.

Muslimin Sema, who heads the MNLF faction that bolted Nur Misuari’s leadership, said government and MILF negotiators should always draw lessons from the 1996 government-MNLF peace deal in their efforts to formulate the annexes to the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro.

Sema said the peace process with the MILF would face a “bottleneck” should negotiators from government and the MILF refuse to reconsider unenforced but salient provisions of the 1996 government-MNLF peace pact.

Among these, he said, is the provision on territory, which called for the establishment of an autonomous government that would cover 13 provinces and several cities in the Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan areas.

In the plebiscite that followed the 1996 peace pact, only five provinces voted for inclusion in the ARMM—Maguindanao, Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Lanao del Sur and the city of Marawi.

Sema also cited another alleged unenforced provision on the exploration of resources in the ARMM.

“The power and wealth-sharing schemes need to be enhanced without discrimination and should be beneficial to all Bangsamoro inhabitants—Christians, Muslims and lumad,” he said.

He did not specify what the MNLF faction he heads would do if the provisions, including the formation of a regional security group, continue to be unenforced.

However, it is public knowledge that the MNLF did not disarm after it signed the 1996 peace agreement and its forces remain intact under its state revolutionary commands that cover many Mindanao provinces. With reports from Jeoffrey Maitem and Charlie Señase

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Tags: Autonomous Region , Bangsamoro , law , MILF , Mindanao , Moro Islamic Liberation Front , peace process

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