by Arland Abubakkar
President Benigno C. Aquino III last Tuesday, December 18, 2012 issued Executive Order # 120 creating the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to be composed of 15 members; 8 to be recommended by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) including its chairman and 7 by the government but shall all be Bangsamoro.
The BTC with an initial budget of PhP 100 Million will draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as required by the Framework Agreement signed last October 15, 2012.
Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Chair of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) Peace Panel said that the “TransCom will need to put up its office and staff, convene, come up with work plans and agree on procedures”.
“Members will also have to be officially appointed first”, said Ferrer. On his part, Ghazali Jaafar, 1st Vice Chairman on Political Affairs of the MILF was quoted by Mindanao Cross, a local newspaper in Cotabato City saying that “the Transcom’s creation is a big boost to the peace process”.
In an emailed statement to the Mindanao Cross, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said that, “the EO 120 is a presidential initiative that affirmed Aquino’s resolved to advance the government’s peace talks with the MILF”.
Two days after the executive order was issued, both Houses of Congress passed Resolution No. 971 supporting the creation of the Commission. Rep. Jesus Sacdalan of North Cotabato, one of those who sponsored the resolution together with Congressmen Simeon Datumanong of the 2nd District of Maguindanao, Tupay Loong of Sulu and Acmad Tomawis of Ang Laban ng Indiginong Filipino Partylist was also quoted by the Mindanao Cross that “ it has been 40 years . . . we are tired of waiting so we want peace.
We are supportive of Peace, because this is what our next generation will inherit. They will no longer wake up to violence”. The one in the House of Senate was sponsored by Senator Teofisto TJ Guingona who hails from Mindanao.
The issuance of the EO came at a time when the Moro people was facing a period of uncertainty in the light of the impasse at the 34th Exploratory Talks held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Last Wednesday, the issue was downplayed by Malacanang Palace saying “this would not be insurmountable”.
In a press briefing, presidential spokesman, Edwin Lacierda said “he spoke to Presidential Adviser Deles and was told the impasse or disagreement on which party would steer the proposed BTA was “not an issue”.
As things are seen to be in the right direction, both the issuance of the executive order as well as the support extended to it by the Congress are both laudable efforts in fast tracking the resolution of the Mindanao Problem. Perhaps the issue that caused the deadlock could be ironed out soonest so that the remaining unfinished issues will be completed while talks are still going on in Kuala Lumpur.
As this developed, ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv S. Hataman renewed his commitment to the framework agreement and support to the transition commission during his first ever state of region address (SORA) held at the 800-seater Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex in Cotabato City.
As the government and the MILF move on in resuming the peace process, more sectors are expressing support to the framework agreement. The gesture of Congressman Sacdalan and his group of Moro lawmakers who initiated the passage of the resolution in Congress is a sign that not only the Moros who want peace to prevail in Mindanao but also non-Muslims/Moros like him. Hopefully, other lawmakers in Mindanao will make the same heart-warming gesture made by Rep. Sacdalan.
The attendance of municipal mayors, other local leaders in the core territory as well as those outside of the proposed Bangsamoro Region in forums and other gatherings were the framework agreement was being explained; and message of support over the radio by local leaders are indicative that the framework agreement is gaining ground.
At this juncture, due credit is given to non-government organizations, the MinRHAC, the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) and local government units for sponsoring activities primarily aimed at enlightening the people on the contents and intent of the agreement.
Moro and Christian leaders are now becoming interested in knowing what the framework agreement is all about. Datu Lester Q. Sinsuat, the good and young mayor of Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao had a paid time slot in one radio stations in Cotabato City urging his people-constituents to support the framework agreement. All these are signs that the accord reached at Kuala Lumpur are accepted by the people.
From Maguindanao to Sulu; to Basilan; Cotabato; General Santos City; to Mati City; Malapatan, Saranggani Province, the information drive being intensified by the MILF and other groups had gained ground. Hopefully, the TransCom can do well its mandate and finish its job in a given time.
A little over two months after the signing of the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) last October 15, 2012, President Benigno Aquino III signed the Executive Order (EO) No. 120 creating the 15-man Transition Commission (TC) last December 17 that gave birth to new political entity called “Bangsamoro” in 2016.
The next day, December 18, the House of Representatives and the Senate issued their respective resolutions expressing support to the EO. The House Resolution No. 971 was introduced by Mindanao lawmakers: Jesus Sacdalan of North Cotabato, Tupay Loong of Sulu, and Simeon Datumanong of Maguindanao, while the Senate’s Resolution No. 922 was introduced by Senator Teofisto Guingona III, also of Mindanao.
All these actions, by the President and the two Houses of Congress, are grand gestures of greatness beyond shallow and selfish considerations. These also show the growing maturity of this country especially the leaders in respecting and accommodating various political views and variants reminiscent of what are taking place in much of Europe, especially in the United Kingdom and in Spain.
We salute the President for the EO and the congressmen and senators who find time to issue their respective resolutions expressing the sense of both chambers of Congress.
Now, can we safely say that the Moros in Mindanao are heading for their good future within the larger Philippine state by these grand gestures? Of course, the answer cannot be NO It would be at the height of heedlessness, nay ungratefulness, if we do not appreciate these greatness and statesmanship of the President and the senators and congressmen concerned. Indeed, these are acts and decisions in the right directions.
However, let us remember that the roadmap to peace as indicated in the FAB is still a long way to go. The road ahead is full of pitfalls and complexities. Remember that the two parties have failed to resolve the Annex on Arrangements and Modalities during their latest round of talks in Malaysia. This Annex will indicate the steps to complete the whole peace process in Mindanao leading to the establishment of a regular government for the Bangsamoro.
The MILF wants to lead the Transition Authority, which is the real premium in the 16-year GPH-MILF peace negotiation, but the government preferred Bangsamoro-led.
For the moment, the parties are in locked in two immovable situations. But with the so much investments, goodwill, and determination of the parties, they will be able to settle this in due time, God willing! Besides and more importantly, we do not believe President Aquino has this kind of thinking in relation to who will lead Transition Authority.
Even common sense would tell us that the accolade or reward must belong and go to those who invested “sweat, tears (and blood)” and not especially to those who rocked the boat when the sailing is rough. Otherwise, the whole idea is not really to solve the Moro Question with the MILF. (T/R-022/R-006)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)
Source: Luwaran – Officially Website of MILF (http://www.luwaran.com)