WHAT HAPPENS AFTER MILF PEACE AGREEMENT IS SIGNED?

MARCH 26 -Butch Panegel Malang is a commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). He is in Manila now, not for an armed offensive, but as a witness for peace. From the jungles of Mindanao, he arrived Wednesday in the metropolis, a day head of the signing of an agreement that is envisaged to finish the war he fought for so long. The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that will be signed Thursday has 5 component documents. They are the framework agreement signed in 2012 and separate annexes on revenue generation and wealth sharing, normalization, power sharing, and transitional arrangement. Once signed, the comprehensive agreement will pave the way for the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to finalize a draft of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The BBL will implement the provisions of the agreement. The BTC's draft BBL will be reviewed by the Palace prior to submission to Congress by June. The administration hopes to enact the BBL by yearend and submit it to voters in a plebiscite by early 2015. Once ratified in a plebiscite, a Bangsamoro Transition Authority will replace the current ARMM. This will be a holdover until officials of a new Bangsamoro government are elected in the 2016 elections. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front a Muslim separatist rebel group located in Southern Philippines. The area where the group is active is called Bangsamoro by the MILF and it covers the southern portion of Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, Palawan, Basilan and the neighbouring islands. There are approximately 4.5 million Muslims in the Philippines and the majority live within this area. MORE BELOW....

ALSO: Lanao del Sur town asks to be excluded from Bangsamoro political entity

While most of Central Mindanao rejoiced at the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, a group of mostly Christian settlers in Wao town in Lanao del Sur province staged a rally Thursday morning to asked to be excluded from the Bangsamoro political entity. In a telephone interview, Wao Mayor Elvino Balicao said around 7,000 residents, mostly Ilonggo settlers, flocked into town to call the attention of the national government and to ask to be excluded from the proposed Bangsamoro region. The peace rally was staged even though it will take some time before the proposed Bangsamoro political entity will be subject to a plebiscite. Balicao clarified the townspeople are not against the Bangsamoro and that they support the signing of the CAB. “We are one with our Muslim brothers and sisters in the Bangsamoro, and since Wao town is [mostly] Christian settlers, we want them (Bangsamoro) to fully enjoy the creation of a new political entity according to their ways and traditions,” he said. Balicao added: "I just want to appeal that if time comes for the plebescite, let the true voices of the people–or the result of the plebescite–come out.” Residents of Wao, Lanao del Sur support the peace process but want to be excluded from the proposed Bangsamoro political entity. (Ferdinandh Cabrera) The group Lihok Wao initiated the rally. Perla Inigo, the head coordinator, said they will hold more rallies until the President hears them. “If the president has granted the aspirations of the Bangsamoro, then why not also hear our demand for a peaceful society [excluded from the] Bangsamoro?” she said. The group released a signed manifesto that it hopes will reach Malacañang, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.

ALSO: Int'l community hails GPH-MILF peace pact

The international community on Thursday hailed the historic signing of a peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is seen to end decades of rebellion in Mindanao and pave the way for economic development there. German Minister of State Maria Bohmer, who was among the high-ranking visiting foreign dignitaries who witnessed signing of the landmark pact, called it a “milestone” as she vowed more assistance from Germany to Mindanao. “We will continue to support the peace process in providing development aid and also democratic structures to support the Philippines in this procedure,” Bohmer said in an interview. British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad said the successful implementation of the Malaysian-brokered accord, called Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB), will “demonstrate the Philippines’ increasing political maturity, its ability to accomplish things that have been intractable in the past and its potential to emerge as one the world’s economic powers.”

ALSO: No surrender of firearms for MILF – Iqbal

MILF peace panel chief Mohaqher Iqbal. REUTERS FILE PHOTO-Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters do not have to surrender or destroy their firearms following the signing of the peace deal between the group and the Philippine government, MILF chief negotiator Mohaquer Iqbal said Friday. Iqbal said the firearms will be given to a yet-to-be-organized third party, and stored in a warehouse where both the MILF and government will have no key. "There is no surrender of firearms to the government. The firearms will be stored. There is also no destruction of firearms but it will be put beyond use," Iqbal said in a joint press conference in Manila Hotel on Friday, a day after the historic signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). The CAB, a product of 17 years of on-and-off negotiations, will pave the way for the creation of a Bangsamoro political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which President Benigno Aquino III once described as a “failed experiment.” Government peace panel chief Miriam Coronel Ferrer said there is no surrender of firearms because the agreement is based on dignity.


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What happens after MILF peace agreement is signed by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News Posted at 03/26/2014 9:03 PM | Updated as of 03/26/2014 9:03 PM


The Moro Islamic Liberation Front a Muslim separatist rebel group located in Southern Philippines. The area where the group is active is called Bangsamoro by the MILF and it covers the southern portion of Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, Palawan, Basilan and the neighbouring islands. There are approximately 4.5 million Muslims in the Philippines and the majority live within this area.

MANILA, MARCH 31, 2014 (ABS-CBN) - Butch Panegel Malang is a commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). He is in Manila now, not for an armed offensive, but as a witness for peace.

From the jungles of Mindanao, he arrived Wednesday in the metropolis, a day head of the signing of an agreement that is envisaged to finish the war he fought for so long.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that will be signed Thursday has 5 component documents. They are the framework agreement signed in 2012 and separate annexes on revenue generation and wealth sharing, normalization, power sharing, and transitional arrangement.

Once signed, the comprehensive agreement will pave the way for the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to finalize a draft of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The BBL will implement the provisions of the agreement.

The BTC's draft BBL will be reviewed by the Palace prior to submission to Congress by June.

The administration hopes to enact the BBL by yearend and submit it to voters in a plebiscite by early 2015.

Once ratified in a plebiscite, a Bangsamoro Transition Authority will replace the current ARMM.

This will be a holdover until officials of a new Bangsamoro government are elected in the 2016 elections.

The new Bangsamoro government will be led by a chief minister, who is elected from the members of the Bangsamoro assembly.

The assemblymen will be the ones elected by the public during the election.

Aside from prescribing the form of government and powers of the new Bangsamoro entity, the agreement also details the powers of the Bangsamoro government vis-à-vis the national government.

This early, the Aquino administration said the road won't be easy.

For one, politics attendant to the 2016 elections may find its way into the issue.

NOW FOR THE HARD PART

Signing the peace agreement with the MILF on Thursday is neither the end nor the easiest part of the peace process.

Both Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles and House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said what happens after the peace agreement is the tough part.

Once the peace agreement is signed, the next step is getting Congress to enact a BBL that will reorganize the existing ARMM to reflect the provisions of the peace pact.

Deles has been meeting lawmakers to shepherd the bill, which is still being drafted by the BTC, for submission to Malacanang this month.

"Hindi ito magiging madali, pagpapatupad ng commitments sa agreement," she said.

Deles said in the government's time table, the next milestone is the submission of the draft Bangsamoro law.

She said this early, there are concerns on the ground about the implementation of the peace agreement, particularly how it will be affected by the election of officials to the Bangsamoro that will coincide with the 2016 presidential elections.

"Elections are political alliances," she said.

Gonzales also expressed the same apprehension. "I think politics, being the national past time... although sana huwag mangyari it will influence so many things."

POSSIBLE HURDLES

The concerns don't end there. Gonzales, who is expected to shepherd the bill in Congress, sees some possible hurdles.

They include quorum, for instance, and there may not always be enough warm bodies to attend the sessions.

"Any bill for that matter, quorum. I do believe members of Congress are responsible enough," he said.

Gonzales also expects lengthy debates and questions on the bill, especially from the 50-member Mindanao bloc of lawmakers.

"Kailangan may enough briefing and reaching out sa members ng Mindanao solons," he said.

In the past, Zamboanga Rep. Celso Lobregat expressed concerns on the constitutionality of the peace agreement.

He also doesn't think that the abolition of lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which in the past was used as carrot and stick to ensure legislative support for administration measures, will be a factor.

Deles also thinks similarly.

"We maintain that the law should be passed on its own merit," she said. "Everyone understands this is important not just for Bangsamoro... but for entire country. "

SHORT CUT

This early, Deles and Gonzales are seeing a solution to expedite things and work around the legislative calendar, which allows many breaks in the congressional sessions.

Gonzales said once the bill is filed, with possibly Speaker Sonny Belmonte as the author, a special ad hoc committee will be formed to tackle it and dispense with the need for other committees to tackle the bill separately.

He also laid out a timetable: if the bill is filed in June when Congress goes on sine die adjournment, Congress can tackle it at the committee level after the President delivers his 5th State of the Nation Address in July.

It can be tackled before the 2015 budget bill hits plenary because under the rules, the budget bill takes precedence over any other measure.

He is also looking at reducing congressional breaks. He expects the budget deliberations to span all of September.

Deles is also optimistic that a similar arrangement may happen at the Senate. "Everyone understands this is very important. We have a narrow window."

Deles also counts on presidential powers of persuasion to get the job done, even without PDAF. "Were also looking at this piece of legislation as being historical. We can count on leadership to want to be part of that."

SENATE PRIORITY

Senate President Franklin Drilon in a statement Monday, said the proposed law will be given utmost priority in the upper Chamber.

"The Senate is more than ready to work on the new Bangsamoro basic law - one that would be universally fair, practical and Constitutionally-consistent. The public can expect our commitment to the Bangsamoro not only for the sake of national progress, but also for the welfare and future of the entire Southeast Asian region," he said.

In the next few days, Malang will return home to Mindanao, armed with cautious optimism that this agreement will not be made of promises that that will be broken.

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Lanao del Sur town asks to be excluded from Bangsamoro political entity March 27, 2014 9:20pm 688 55 0 896


Residents of Wao, Lanao del Sur support the peace process but want to be excluded from the proposed Bangsamoro political entity. (Ferdinandh Cabrera)

COTABATO CITY — While most of Central Mindanao rejoiced at the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, a group of mostly Christian settlers in Wao town in Lanao del Sur province staged a rally Thursday morning to asked to be excluded from the Bangsamoro political entity.

In a telephone interview, Wao Mayor Elvino Balicao said around 7,000 residents, mostly Ilonggo settlers, flocked into town to call the attention of the national government and to ask to be excluded from the proposed Bangsamoro region.

The peace rally was staged even though it will take some time before the proposed Bangsamoro political entity will be subject to a plebiscite.

Balicao clarified the townspeople are not against the Bangsamoro and that they support the signing of the CAB.

“We are one with our Muslim brothers and sisters in the Bangsamoro, and since Wao town is [mostly] Christian settlers, we want them (Bangsamoro) to fully enjoy the creation of a new political entity according to their ways and traditions,” he said.

Balicao added: "I just want to appeal that if time comes for the plebescite, let the true voices of the people–or the result of the plebescite–come out.” Residents of Wao, Lanao del Sur support the peace process but want to be excluded from the proposed Bangsamoro political entity. (Ferdinandh Cabrera) The group Lihok Wao initiated the rally.

Perla Inigo, the head coordinator, said they will hold more rallies until the President hears them.

“If the president has granted the aspirations of the Bangsamoro, then why not also hear our demand for a peaceful society [excluded from the] Bangsamoro?” she said.

The group released a signed manifesto that it hopes will reach Malacañang, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.

Issues

According to the manifesto, there was a lack of consultations. It said Christians are a minority in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, but make up a majority of the town, and that they had not been consulted in the peace process.

The group also said facilitators commissioned by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) came to Wao for consultations among the constituents in November 2013.

It said, though that the meeting was selective because only five Christian stakeholders were present. The rest of the people at the meeting were from the Muslim community there and did not represent the town, the group said.

The group also raised concerns that settlers might lose their land when the Bangsamoro political entity is created.

Based on the 2010 census, Wao town is 83-percent Christian and 17-percent Muslim. The town has 26 barangays, only 7 of which are predominantly Muslim.

The group said it is willing to meet with the BTC for more consultations. —Ferdinandh Cabrera/JDS, GMA News

Int'l community hails GPH-MILF peace pact By MICHAELA DEL CALLARMarch 27, 2014 5:54pm 207 34 0 300


President Benigno Aquino III and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak witness the historic signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the government and the MILF in Malacañang on Thursday, March 27. The agreement was signed by MILF peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal and GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, with Tengku Dato' Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed of Malaysia as witness. Kara David GMA NEWS NETWORK

The international community on Thursday hailed the historic signing of a peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is seen to end decades of rebellion in Mindanao and pave the way for economic development there.

German Minister of State Maria Bohmer, who was among the high-ranking visiting foreign dignitaries who witnessed signing of the landmark pact, called it a “milestone” as she vowed more assistance from Germany to Mindanao.

“We will continue to support the peace process in providing development aid and also democratic structures to support the Philippines in this procedure,” Bohmer said in an interview.

British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad said the successful implementation of the Malaysian-brokered accord, called Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB), will “demonstrate the Philippines’ increasing political maturity, its ability to accomplish things that have been intractable in the past and its potential to emerge as one the world’s economic powers.”

Challenges ahead

Ahmad warned of challenges ahead, but stressed that “with the continued commitment, courage and creativity that has made this agreement possible, the dividends of peace will inevitably be realized.”

“The agreement is a truly Filipino solution to the conflict that will not just bring benefit to Mindanao but to the country as a whole and of which all Filipinos can be proud,” Ahmad said.

The 11,000-strong MILF, which used to be part of a larger secessionist group that signed a peace deal with the government in 1996, has been battling government troops in southern Philippines since 1969, in one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies.

Decades of conflict has claimed at least 120,000 lives, displaced thousands and brought massive destruction to property.

Foreign governments and international aid agencies expect the new agreement to finally usher in investments and provide jobs.

Bangsamoro

In the accord, the MILF agrees to drop its bid for a separate state and settle for parliamentary self-rule in areas to be called Bangsamoro autonomous region, which will be established by 2016.

The Bangsamoro replaces another Muslim autonomous region that was agreed upon with the former rebel group, Moro National Liberation Front, which was declared a failure by the Philippine government.

“Those who will eventually assume key roles in the Bangsamoro will carry the hopes and wishes of the nation on their shoulders. They will be judged not by the importance of their positions, but by the tangible improvements they bring about in the daily lives of citizens,” Ahmad said.

United Nations Development Programme chief Helen Clark said the agreement will uplift the lives of the people in Mindanao, particularly in areas long besieged by war.

“When a region experiences conflict, it can’t make good progress and good development and the people suffer. The prospect of having enduring peace in Mindanao is a very good one in human development terms,” Clark said at a press briefing in Manila before attending the signing ceremonies in Malacañang.

The World Bank, for its part, said it will continue to scale up efforts to support programs that will broker “sustainable peace and development in the Bangsamoro and Mindanao as a whole.” — KBK, GMA News

No surrender of firearms for MILF – Iqbal By AMITA O. LEGASPI, GMA NewsMarch 28, 2014 12:44pm 544 72 0 663


MILF peace panel chief Mohaqher Iqbal. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters do not have to surrender or destroy their firearms following the signing of the peace deal between the group and the Philippine government, MILF chief negotiator Mohaquer Iqbal said Friday.

Iqbal said the firearms will be given to a yet-to-be-organized third party, and stored in a warehouse where both the MILF and government will have no key.

"There is no surrender of firearms to the government. The firearms will be stored. There is also no destruction of firearms but it will be put beyond use," Iqbal said in a joint press conference in Manila Hotel on Friday, a day after the historic signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

The CAB, a product of 17 years of on-and-off negotiations, will pave the way for the creation of a Bangsamoro political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which President Benigno Aquino III once described as a “failed experiment.”

Government peace panel chief Miriam Coronel Ferrer said there is no surrender of firearms because the agreement is based on dignity.

Asked what if the MILF wants to take back their firearms if ever the CAB fails, Ferrer said they will not be able to get it.

"That is the risk MILF undertook. The firearms will be under lock and key and put beyond use," she said

MILF peace panel member Prof. Abud Sayid Lingga said the MILF will not be disbanded but it will no longer be an armed group but a "social movement."

Iqbal said they are still discussing their role as a social movement. — KBK, GMA News


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