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COMMENT: IV. BEL: Roadmap and Roadblocks (6) Patricio P. Diaz

6th  of nine parts

Arbitrary Accommodation

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 01 January) — In allowing Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chair Nur Misuari to deal separately with another government (GPH) implementing panel, President Rodrigo Duterte replicated the arbitrary accommodation that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo granted Misuari. However, Duterte’s accommodation can imperil the Bangsamoro.

In 2006, President Macapagal-Arroyo agreed to have the full implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA)  reviewed under the supervision and control of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference, now Cooperation). Known as MNLF-GRP-OIC Tripartite Review, President Benigno C. Aquino III continued it until its termination in January 2016 – with Misuari’s protestation, inconclusively.

President Arroyo could have ignored Misuari’s complaints but she could not refuse the ICFM (Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers)  Resolution No. 2/33-MMs in 2006 calling for the review. Evidently, the OIC’s call was also an arbitrary accommodation of Misuari if the facts are taken objectively.

[1] Paragraph 12 of the FPA requested the OIC “to continue to extend its assistance and good offices in monitoring the full implementation of the agreement” but only “during the transitional period until the regular autonomous government is fully established”.

[2] This transitory provision was no longer in effect in 2006: (a) R.A. No. 9054 was ratified in 2001. (b) The first election under the new law was held in the same year, electing MNLF Parouk Hussein as governor and other MNLF officials as majority members of the Regional Legislative Assembly. (c) That firmly established the regular autonomous government under FPA embodied in R.A. No. 9054.

[3] The OIC was inconsistent in supporting the MNLF’s rejection of R.A. No. 9054 and the plebiscite. In 2004 and 2005, the ICFM recognized the plebiscite as a “significant” development “in the development of the 1996 Peace Agreement”. In 2003, the 10th Islamic Summit extended the same recognition including the November 2001 election.

[4] As stated in “[2]” above, the MNLF took part in the November 2001 election winning the governorship and the majority membership in the Regional Legislative Assembly – an act of recognition of the plebiscite and R.A, 9054.

[5] Misuari accused the Congress of enacting R.A. No. 9054 without his participation and that of the MNLF.  But to amend or repeal R.A. No. 6734, the FPA provided these options for the Congress:

In Part I, Paragraph 2(a):  “The bill shall include the pertinent provisions of the final Peace Agreement and the expansion of the present ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) area of autonomy” (Bold text supplied). Why fault the Congress for exercising the options so authorized?

In Part III (Phase II): Referring to provisions of the FPA for implementation after the ratification of R.A. No. 9054 and to GRP’s obligation to recommend their inclusion in the bill, “Accordingly, these provisions shall be recommended by the GRP to Congress for incorporation in the amendatory or repealing law. (Bold text supplied). Why did the FPA not specifically mandate the inclusion as compulsory instead of obliging GRP to recommend?       

[6] The Review was for the amendment of R.A. No. 9054 in accordance with the FPA. There is no provision in the FPA allowing this mode of amendment with the intercession of the OIC. This is not among the modes provided in Sections 1 and 2 of Article XVII on Amendments of R.A. No. 9054.

The OIC could have said “NO” to Misuari, but did not. Arroyo could not refuse OIC’s call. Aquino III finished the Review on its 10th year but did not accommodate Misuari by rejecting three issues that according to then Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (PAPP)  Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles were not within the purview of the Review for valid reasons. Without the three rejected issues, Misuari vetoed the proposed bill containing the 42 consensus points to amend R.A. No. 9054 in accordance with the FPA. In chess parlance, the Review ended in a stalemate.

Stalemate to Roadblock

Duterte should not have accommodated Misuari; but, as a friend, if they are true friends, he should have convinced him to join the one-track implementing process according to the Bangsamoro Peace and Development Roadmap (BPDR). The 1976 Tripoli Agreement has been fleshed out more comprehensively in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Annexes. Significant provisions of R.A. No. 9054 have been adopted into Draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). By joining the new Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), Misuari could help draft a more inclusive and convergent Bangsamoro Enabling Law (BEL), the new BBL.

Misuari’s misgivings with R.A. No. 9054 and the 2001 plebiscite and ARMM election drove him back to arms. The Review, intended to mend the rift, turned out to be the last straw. Duterte’s accommodation is understandable – to break the stalemate and remove an impediment to peace in Mindanao.  But under the present state of the peace process, it’s ironic — the accommodation can become a formidable roadblock.

As revealed by Parcasio, the autonomy law that MNLF-Misuari will work out with the GPH implementing panel will be the basic law to govern the BAG (Bangsamoro Autonomous Government) – meaning, R.A. No. 9054 will be amended and the ARMM renamed.

Evidently, the new autonomy law will contain the 42 Review consensus points and the three rejected issues together with other matters from the four references Parcasio has specified subject to negotiations. The new autonomy law will not be converged with the new BBL or BEL of the MILF-led BTC. The inevitable complications will form the formidable roadblock to the establishment of the Bangsamoro.

First, the timeline: The MILF-led BTC, most probably, can meet the July2017 timeline for submission to the Congress. This is improbable for the MNLF-Misuari autonomy bill. The negotiation for the three rejected issues and other new matters will take time; gauged from past negotiations including the Review, it can take years. The Congress will defer action indefinitely.

Second, the convergence feasibility: The Bangsamoro under the BTC bill is ministerial-parliamentary; the BAG under the amended R.A. 9054 will still be presidential-unitary. How can the two be converged and come out with the basic law acceptable to all?

What can be converged are the BTC bill and the amended R.A. 9054. The latter is wrapped in uncertainty since the amendment will take time and the Act will have to be ratified. Can the plebiscite be held with the 2019 election? If ratified, convergence can take place during the 18th Congress.

Third, no convergence: But Misuari will not allow convergence. Parcasio called it “a disaster”. If the amended R.A. 9054 is ratified, will Duterte accommodate Misuari and implement the autonomy law to install the BAG ignoring the BTC bill waiting in the Congress? That will not remove the formidable roadblock to peace in Mindanao.

Is there a way to clear the road? 

Tomorrow: Reconfiguration

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