World Bank: BBL can’t ensure peace, new threat groups emerging
The government has to contend with other armed groups, including new threat groups, after achieving peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Sen. Francis Escudero said on Friday, citing a World Bank-funded study of the conflict in Mindanao.
The World Bank study titled “Rebellion, Political Violence and Shadow Crimes in the Bangsamoro: The Bangsamoro Conflict Monitoring System (BCMS) 2011-2013” was undertaken to provide data that would help in understanding the conflict in Mindanao.
It said information was “critical in dealing with the potential recurrence of conflict after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro” between the government and the MILF.
International Alert UK Philippines and the World Bank put up the BCMS to “monitor and analyze conflict, particularly violent conflict with the Bangsamoro and adjoining areas.”
The BCMS collected conflict data from 2011 to 2013 from the Philippine National Police and five credible print media sources in five provinces.
(Escudero’s office provided the Inquirer a copy of the World Bank study.)
With other armed groups in the region, Escudero said the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would not be an assurance of lasting peace in Mindanao.
The World Bank study looked into and analyzed data on conflict in the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi where there were 2,578 violent incidents of violence from 2011 to 2013.
The five provinces make up the bulk of the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous region.
“The BBL will only provide peace between the government and the MILF,” Escudero said, reiterating his call to government peace negotiators to be “candid, honest and not raise false hopes that the BBL will bring peace to Mindanao.”
The MILF, however, sees the BBL as a tool that would make the other armed groups in Mindanao irrelevant.
“With the BBL, other armed groups will lose legitimacy because the issues related to the Moro conflict are being addressed,” Mohagher Iqbal, chief peace negotiator of the MILF, said at a recent round-table discussion in Davao City sponsored by the National Union of Journalists.
Iqbal acknowledged that the BBL “may not be a complete formula” for peace. But with the BBL, he said, “the situation will change significantly.”
The passage of the BBL by Congress is part of the peace agreement signed last year by the government and the MILF.
Escudero said the World Bank study showed that the BBL “will not really provide lasting peace with the armed groups in Mindanao.”
“But admittedly, it may lessen the groups fighting the government [with the achievement of peace with the MILF],” Escudero said.
For the government to settle the peace and order problem in Mindanao, it has to “engage all other groups as well and not just the MILF because all other groups that were excluded will still pose serious security threats to Mindanao and our country,” he added.