After March 27 GPH-MILF peace deal, what next?

Posted at 03/21/2014 9:10 PM

MANILA - An estimated 1,000 guests are expected to witness the historic signing of the government's peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) next week.

The signing is scheduled on Thursday, March 27, at Malacanang Palace.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on Friday said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front's (MILF) rival group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), is invited, along with members of the diplomatic corps as well as other foreign parties instrumental to the peace agreement.

The MNLF already signed a peace agreement with government in 1996.

"There has been an invitation extended to MNLF. We are expecting members of the diplomatic corps, members of the International Contact Group (ICG), the International Monitoring Team (IMT), and also particular individuals who helped the process over the years. We're also inviting congressional leaders and the House of Congress and the Senate also to witness the historic signing. And also, some countries where they have participated through their ICG and the IMT," Lacierda said.

Lacierda said there is no confirmation yet if Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will continue with initial plans to witness the event.

Malaysia is leading a multinational search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370 off Australia in the Southern Indian Ocean.

The Palace also invited congressional leaders.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Congress is expected to enact within the year a Bangsamoro Basic Law that will replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The draft law will be submitted to Congress and certified by the President as urgent. A plebiscite will then be held at the areas identified in the agreement after the law is passed.
 
"The crafting of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law is still with the Transition Commission. We are hoping that they would be able to finalize everything by March or by April but, we need the draft to be submitted to us early," Lacierda said.

"The Bangsamoro Transition Commission will forward it to the Office of the President (OP) for further review. Once it is okayed by the OP, we will now submit it to the Congress. The President will certify it as urgent. Hopefully, during the deliberations--the deliberations will take, and as committed already by, at least, the press statement of Senate President Frank Drilon, hopefully by the end of this year, we will have the Bangsamoro Basic Law enacted," he added.

The areas that will take part in a plebiscite are the current provinces and cities in the ARMM, the cities of Isabela and Cotabato, 6 municipalities in Lanao del Norte, and 39 barangays in 6 municipalities of Cotabato province.
 
Other areas near the enumerated places that wish to join the plebiscite may do so through a resolution passed by the local government unit concerned or a petition of at least 10 percent of registered voters in the locality two months before the plebiscite is held.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law will provide for the modalities that would allow them to join the plebiscite.
 
Lacierda explained that the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace process is now meeting with congressional leaders on the issue.

He hopes that Mindanao-based lawmakers will rally their allies to pass the law.

"This is a very important bill, not only--it's not only historic but, it's also a very, very vital to the development in Mindanao. It has been for the longest time been neglected, and so I would imagine that considering the importance--considering also, by the way, there already have been statements issued by foreign governments, as well as development agencies of their willingness to help that particular region," he said.

"Even now, as we speak, there are a number of development agencies that have been looking into ARMM and trying to help spur development in Mindanao," he added.

"I would imagine that the Mindanao congressmen will call all the support of the other regional legislators because the improvement and development in Mindanao will redound to the benefit of the entire Philippines. If there would be some issues raised, I think, the Executive branch will be there to help our fellow legislators clarify some of their concerns," Lacierda said.

In a separate statement, government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said that the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement will seal the partnership between the government and the MILF.

"This partnership is based on our shared aspiration to heal the wounds of conflict, enable meaningful autonomy for the Bangsamoro, and nurture peace and development in Muslim Mindanao," she said.
 
The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) brings together all the major agreements signed by the parties in the course of the 17-year negotiations.

Its most important parts are the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and 4 annexes. These documents provide for the road map and the terms pertaining to the creation of the Bangsamoro entity and the transformation of the MILF from an armed group to an active participant in governance and societal reform.
 
Coronel-Ferrer and MILF panel chair Mohagher Iqbal will sign the CAB, with Malaysian 3rd party facilitator Tengku Dato' Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed signing as witness.
 
President Benigno Aquino, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles, and MILF chief Al Haj Murad Ebrahim are expected to deliver messages during the event.