Solo City, Indonesia, July 3 – The Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) have agreed to develop a “workable partnership at appropriate levels” to pursue reforms in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The Ad Hoc High-Level (AHHL) Group of the two parties met in Indonesia on June 20-22 under the auspices of the Organization of Islamic Conference - Peace Committee on Southern Philippines (OIC-PCSP) to discuss unresolved issues regarding the implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles led the GPH delegation, while Prof. Nur Misuari headed the MNLF contingent. Indonesian Ambassador Rezlan I. Jenie, OIC-PCSP chair, presided the said meeting.
According to the report of the GPH-MNLF Technical Committee, “The Parties, recognizing the possibilities for reform in light of the postponement of the ARMM elections believe that they should avail of the opportunity and use the period to work together with concerned stakeholders to capacitate the ARMM as a complementary mechanism for the full implementation of the 1996 GPH-OIC-MNLF Final Peace Agreement (FPA).”
The report likewise stated that both parties have agreed to effect the following: facilitate participation of the MNLF in the ARMM governance reforms; hasten the completion of the drafting of a bill to amend RA (Republic Act) 9054, the Organic Act of ARMM, to comply with the FPA; complete the devolution of National Agencies to the ARMM in accordance with RA 9054; facilitate the implementation of the provisions on representation in the National Government and in all Organs of the State; improve capacity of ARMM to ensure delivery of basic services to the ARMM’s constituents; and improve the peace and order condition on the ground and protect human rights, among others.
During the meeting, the GPH and the MNLF were also able to reach a “consensus on strategic minerals,” which is one of the pertinent issues. These include an interim co-management arrangement on approval of permits, and monitoring of compliance to the contracts, among others.
Unresolved issues, said the report, will be discussed by the GPH, MNLF and OIC-PCSP on or before September 30.
No longer a negotiation
Deles said that the peace process with the MNLF is no longer a negotiation, but a conversation about completing the implementation of the 1996 FPA. The OIC-PCSP has been facilitating the discussions between the two parties.
"The primary purpose of the Tripartite Process with the OIC and MNLF is to monitor and ensure full implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement. It does not in any instance reopen negotiations which were completed in 1996 as clearly expressed in the Totality Clause of the FPA,” she stated.
The peace adviser added that the reform process in the ARMM will provide prospects for collaborative efforts. “The Aquino administration's program of reforms in the region creates opportunities for all good intentioned stakeholders to work with both national government and LGUs (local government units) in enhancing the capacity of the ARMM to provide basic public services through good governance.”
Deles also noted that the reform process “will engage the multiple participation of all relevant stakeholders.”
“We are pleased that the MNLF, as signatory to the FPA, has agreed to partner with government in this very difficult process,” she said. #