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MIND DA NEWS: EO No. 08 Needs Clarification

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/17 November) — Executive Order No. 08 s. 2016 creating a new 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission was signed November 7, a week ago. The issuance had been given wide publicity and awaited since last July.

The EO was expected to mandate the BTC to draft a new proposed law to establish the Bangsamoro according to the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro) and President Duterte’s Bangsamoro Peace and Development Roadmap (BPDR). The first proposal BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law) failed to pass the 16th Congress under the past Aquino III administration.

While it had been expected, it turned to be not as expected with reference to media statements from President Rodrigo R. Duterte, his Peace Secretary Jesus G. Dureza and their plan laid out in BPDR.     

In those media statements, BBL was to be “junked” and changed with a more inclusive Bangsamoro enabling law (BEL) to be drafted by an expanded BTC by converging the CAB, the FPA (1996 Final Peace Agreements), R.A. No. 9054, IPRA (Indigenous People’s Rights Acts) and other relevant laws. All these are in the BPDR, except the junking of BBL.

During their first meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last August 13-14, the Government and MILF panels “agreed on the substantive aspects of the peace and development roadmap … (and) to increase the membership of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), with 11 members to be nominated by the MILF and 10 by the GPH” and “… recommended the issuance of a revised Executive Order” on the BTC by the President. (See: Joint Statement of the GPH and MILF Implementing Panels, OPAPP Website)

Our expectation was the issuance of an entirely new executive order; or, if a revision of President Benigno C. Aquino’s EO, one that is meaningfully different. Yet, EO No. 08, as it turned out, is just a slight amendment of EO No. 120 s. 2012 as amended by EO No. 187 s. 2015. And, notably, there are some points in the amendatory EO No. 08 s. 2016 that need clarification in view of the earlier media statements and the BPDR.

Point 1: In Section 1, as to the composition of the BTC, the membership – 15 in Sec. 2, EO 120 (8 MILF, 7 GPH) — is 21 (11 MILF, 10 GPH) as provided in the BPDR and agreed in Kuala Lumpur. It further qualifies, “The Commission shall have a broad and diverse composition.”

BPDR (VII.1) is specific: “Recasting of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission to be composed of representatives from MILF, MNLF, ARMM, Indigenous Peoples, Sultanates, LGUs, etc.” – the same as in the media statements.

Why does EO 08 not provide so?  

Point 2: Section 2 on functions of BTC (Section 3 of EO 120) has two subsections that need clarification.

In EO 08 2(a): To draft proposals for a Bangsamoro Basic Law, which shall be submitted to the Office of the President for submission to Congress.

EO 120, 3(a) that it amended reads: “To draft the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law with provisions consistent with the 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro.” In the 2015 amendatory EO 187, the reference was changed to CAB; so, BBL was CAB-compliant

Of EO 08 2(a):

  1. The BTC is mandated to draft “proposals for a BBL”; in EO 120, to draft the “proposed BBL”? Do the two phrases mean the same?
  2. There is no reference as to the basis of the drafting – unlike in EO 120, the 2012 FAB, later the CAB. Is this significant?
  3. The President will submit these “proposals” to Congress contrary to what BPDR provides. Will it be the Congress that will reconstitute the “proposals” into “a BBL”?

But BPDR (V.A and VII.2) is specific: “Consolidate and converge all peace agreements and legislations (e.g. 1996 FPA with MNLF, 1995 IPRA Law for IPs; RA 9054 or ARMM law).”  This is what will be submitted to the Congress. This is convergence to be done by BTC; Secretary Dureza has repeatedly stated this in the media as convergence. Why are BPDR disregarded and convergence abandoned in EO 08?

Why is BTC mandated to draft proposals for BBL without specific references, not the much-talked-about and proposed BEL with specific references?

EO 08 2(e) reads: Whenever necessary, to assist in identifying and coordinating development programs in the proposed Bangsamoro in conjunction with the MILF Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), and the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI).

The Commission may likewise coordinate with other relevant government agencies and/or non-government organizations;

For this purpose, the Commission may promulgate implementing rules and regulations to provide further details on the matter.”

This amended Section 1 of EO 187 amending Section 3(e) of EO No. 120 which reads: “e. To prepare and draft a Code of Parliamentary Procedures for the Future Bangsamoro Parliament and a Bangsamoro Administrative Code for the consideration of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.”

EO 187 extended the duration of the BTC until the ratification of the BBL instead of its ending upon the enactment of the BBL as provided in EO 120. This added function of the BTC was to save time for the BTA – a very sound and laudable ground, drafting the two Codes being the must-tasks of the BTA.  

Of EO 08 2(e), the rationale is questionable:

  1. The “proposed Bangsamoro” is the ARMM where development programs are under the ARMM government, not the MILF. The use of “in” in the phrase “in the proposed Bangsamoro” connotes the present, hence, referring to ARMM; it would have been different had “for”, connoting the future, been used.
  2. Under the facilities of the BDA and BLMI, MILF has been identifying programs for the future Bangsamoro after its establishment, not before– certainly, not in the ARMM today.
  3. BTC is mandated “to assist” BDA and BLMI, “to coordinate” government agencies other that BDA and BLMI, and “to promulgate” implementing rules and regulation pursuant to its coordination mandate.

Assisting BDA and BLMI identify programs for socioeconomic development is in order IF it is for the future Bangsamoro. But the “coordinating” and “promulgating” tasks in “3” above are out of order”. These tasks are for ARMM, not for the still non-existent Bangsamoro. Why should BTC be made to engage in ARMM development programs?

To recapitulate: EO No. 08 s 2016 is not as expected according to the media statements of Secretary Dureza and President Duterte; to the promise of President Duterte to the MILF and his Moro audiences; and, to what has been laid out in Duterte’s Bangsamoro Peace and Development Roadmap.

Incidentally, the special treat of MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari as recently reported could have led to the revision of EO into what it is. As reported:

President Duterte is eyeing separate talks with MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari, who has been critical of the peace talks between the government and rival group MILF. (philstar, November 9, 2016: Duterte eyes separate talks with Nur Misuari)

Peace Secretary Dureza revealed a new peace plan considering inputs from the MNLF to be included in the proposed Bangsamoro enabling law to be submitted to the Congress. (philstar, November 8, 2016:Dureza: New Bangsamoro gov’t unit to kick off federalism shift)

This plan MindaNews reported more comprehensively last November 5 and updated last November 7 and 9. Briefly, the Misuari-MNLF will have a 5-member panel to talk with Government concerning the implementation of the FPA. The Congress will consolidate the BTC draft according to EO 08 and that of Government and the Misuari-MNLF.

Has EO No. 08 s. 2016  been made to suit the separate peace deal with MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari?

[Mind da News, the alternate of COMMENT, is a comment on current news. The author may be contacted at patponcediaz@yahoo.com.]

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