MILF: 2016 polls crucial to success of Mindanao peace process | Inquirer News
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MILF: 2016 polls crucial to success of Mindanao peace process

/ 05:45 PM March 30, 2014

President Benigno S. Aquino III huddles with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), led by its chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, for a group photo souvenir during the Courtesy Call at the President’s Hall of the Malacañan Palace on Thursday, March 27, 2014. Malacañang Photo Bureau

ILIGAN CITY, Philippines — The next president of the country must be able to nurture the gains of the peace process that the administration of President Benigno Aquino has achieved with Moro rebels to ensure continued security and stability in Mindanao.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) made this call in a statement released on the eve of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

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“If the new president does not follow through with the achievements of the peace process and genuinely adopts a policy of empowering the MILF and henceforth the Bangsamoro Government, then the future is truly bleak,” the group said.

“This is the reason why the 2016 presidential election is truly material to the future of the Bangsamoro,” the MILF stressed.

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The principal bargain for the MILF’s agreeing to end its four-decade rebellion against the Philippine state is the establishment of the Bangsamoro government, an autonomous entity with far greater political and economic governance powers than the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Based on an agreed roadmap, this entity must be fully entrenched by noon of June 30, 2016, the same day Aquino steps down from office.

To make this happen, Congress has to enact the Basic Law that will serve as charter of the future Bangsamoro, which will then be subjected to a plebiscite in the areas proposed to comprise its administrative territory.

Aquino has vowed to make a negotiated deal with the MILF one of his legacies. But expectedly, many of the measures that need to be done to build peace in Mindanao go beyond his term of office.

The MILF acknowledged that some of its fears about reversal in the momentum of the peace process “is compounded after the exit of President Aquino in 2016.”

“We can only hope that those who run for president will adopt a policy of fully supporting the Bangsamoro and not to undermine it in any manner or form,” the MILF said.

After abandoning the armed struggle, the MILF has said it will transform itself into a social movement while also building a political party as vehicle for its members to participate in governing the region.

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Part of the deal is for it to decommission its own army alongside the pursuit of a host of complementary measures to normalize the situation in once conflict-affected communities.

Throughout the implementation of all agreed measures, the peace panels of both parties continue to exist to oversee the efforts while a third-party body, composed of a mix of international and domestic entities, monitor the actual achievement of the detailed milestones.

The peace panels are only disbanded once an Exit Agreement is forged between the parties, signaling the full implementation of their respective commitments as embodied in the CAB.

“This achievement is one for a lifetime… By any stretch of imagination, this hard, complex, and almost futile exercise cannot be repeated in a generation,” the MILF said.

It said that to make the agreement truly work for attaining peace in Mindanao, the parties “must nurture” their partnership “through to the end.”

“This partnership has to be real and genuine. Gone are the days when mistrust and reservation are the rule between negotiators whose motive is to outwit the opponent in order to win. Both sides especially their negotiators have to open up with each other and must continue to undertake problem-solving approaches,” the MILF explained.

“Moreover, both sides have to help one another. Needless to say, the MILF has to be helped to stand on its feet so that it is fully capacitated to stave-off the challenges ahead,” it added.

“Only two capable partners can ensure the success of their peace endeavor,” the group emphasized.

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TAGS: 2016 presidential elections, Benigno Aquino III, Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, Elections, Government, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Peace agreement, Politics, Regions
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