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MINDA DA NEWS: Bangsamoro: After June 30, 2016, What?

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 19 Dec) – What does Moro Islamic Liberation Front want Bangsamoro to be? Leading the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, MILF may be able to set up in transition the Bangsamoro it envisions. But after that, starting July 2016, what assurance is there that the Bangsamoro will grow as envisioned?


This is what could be and must be asked on reading “Break not the partnership”, the December 16-22 editorial of Luwaran. As the official website of the MILF Central Committee on Information, Luwaran, in its editorial, reflects the thinking and position of the MILF leadership.


Ostensibly, the editorial is an appeal to Government to “seriously nurse, care, and nurture” the Government-MILF partnership born with the “signing of the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB)” if Government wants “to succeed in their peace-making in Mindanao”. This partnership will last until June 30, 2016.


Obviously, the appeal refers to the vital issue of who will chair the BTA. MILF wants the FAB to be followed – providing that MILF would lead BTA. Government, advocating “inclusivity”, proposes the chairmanship to be open to any member of BTA. MILF is vehemently objecting as “the MILF’s ability to account for its share of the responsibility to implement all the agreements would be extremely difficult, because it has no control over the chaotic situation”.


The MILF plea is clear: “This partnership should not be interrupted, let alone be broken, until all their agreements shall have been fully implemented, hopefully in time for the May elections in 2016…” After that MILF guarantees that “it is everybody’s game” as “… MILF … either converts itself into a political party or organizes a political party and joins the political fray”. The plan is admirable and noble.


However, while nurturing that partnership is one vital key to the success of peace making in Mindanao under the Aquino III administration, the successful entrenchment of Bangsamoro as MILF has envisioned is a greater concern – much, much beyond the term of the Aquino III administration, in fact, until the end of time.


MILF must control the BTA to guarantee that it takes off according to its vision. But BTA is just the beginning. The growth of Bangsamoro, the new polity, must be nourished and sustained according to MILF’s vision. Should Bangsamoro fall into the control of other-minded Moro leaders too soon by July 2016, how will Bangsamoro’s development according to MILF’s vision be assured?


To guarantee the proper autonomous take off of Bangsamoro under its regularly elected government, the necessary political, civil and economic institutions must be strongly set in place. The task during the transition is to build the pillars of political and economic autonomy – so sorely lacking in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.


At this juncture, it may be asked: Can BTA set up these institutions within one and a half year of transition? Properly speaking, the TC phase of the three-year transition period MILF has granted is not real transition. This begins only from the implementation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. And it should be recalled: The original MILF proposal of one-year pre-interim (pre-transition) and six-year interim (transition) periods was most practical.


What is the basic concept or bottomline? During the transition period not only the institutions for political and economic autonomy will be established firmly but the thinking, attitude, outlook and values of the Moro leaders and people must also change – be in transition – from the old to the new. Hence, Moro leaders other than the MILF will be able to carry on the MILF vision of Bangsamoro. This requires some time; one year and a half is too short.


“Inclusivity” as advocated by the Aquino government is ideally democratic. But that it will unite the Moro leaders now for the good of Bangsamoro is fallacious. Let that evolve in time. The MILF fears and objections are well founded.


Important note: The first regular officials of Bangsamoro should be elected under the system suitable to the ministerial form of government. This is provided in the FAB. But since there is no time during the present transition period to set up the suitable electoral system, the first election of Bangsamoro officials will be synchronized with the May 2016 national elections. This is starting the ministerial form of government under the unitary electoral system. Will future Bangsamoro elections be under a different system?


We believe that Government will keep its partnership with MILF in order to establish Bangsamoro during the Aquino III administration. This is President Aquino’s legacy.


However, since the Aquino government can commit only what it can give, it can be inferred that it will be concerned with Bangsamoro during its term only ending on June 30, 2016. After that its partnership with MILF ends. Henceforth, let MILF worry about what may befall Bangsamoro. (Patricio P. Diaz / MindaNews)

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