JEDDAH --- The Philippine government has batted for the completion of the Tripartite Review Process (TRP) it has been conducting with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under the auspices of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for the past eight years of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement to “do justice to the long struggle of the Bangsamoro.”
In her opening statement at the start of the two-day Ministerial Meeting on the Tripartite Review Process among the OIC, the Philippine government (GPH) and the MNLF from January 25-26 in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles said “it is high time for the TRP – with the government and the Bangsamoro fronts in full and active partnership – to conclude the review and proceed to the implementation of the results of the review.”
The OIC, which brokered the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the Philippine government and the MNLF, has called for the conduct of a high-level tripartite meeting to review the implementation of the peace deal and make its assessment of the progress made as well as obstacles facing its full implementation with a particular focus on Phase II in 2006.
At least four tripartite meetings and two ad-hoc high level group meetings were conducted since the review process started in 2006.
Since then, the process has resulted to several agreements, including the 42 consensus points, which were intended to be amendatory provisions for the Republic Act 9054, before they were integrated into the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
The 5th tripartite review process was initially scheduled on September 16, 2013, but was suspended by the OIC following the three-week Zamboanga Siege, when rogue members of the MNLF attacked the southern port city.
The ongoing meeting is set to tackle the two remaining issues related to the co-management of minerals and natural resources and the full convergence of the FPA with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) under the broad framework of the BBL.
The MILF signed the CAB with the Philippine government in March 27, 2014 after 17 years of negotiations to the wide acclaim of the international communities, who have been extending financial and other assistance to Mindanao peace programs.
In 2014, the OIC set up the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) to unify the two fronts for the specific integration of the FPA with the BBL. MNLF factions are represented in the BCF through a so-called Jeddah formula.
“A review is time-bound. A never-ending review means that agreements will never be implemented. It will mean endlessly looking backwards instead of moving forward,” Deles said in her opening statement.
“I am confident that the parties – the OIC, the Government, and the MNLF – are ready to take all necessary action: to surmount narrow, rigid interests and enter a new era of collaboration for lasting peace and progress,” she added.
Furthermore, through the MNLF-MILF convergence of the FPA and the CAB through the BBL, the MNLF would be given equitable representation in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) as well as encourage them to field candidates for the elections in the Bangsamoro region.
A Tripartite Implementation Monitoring Committee (TIMC) will also be formed to supervise the implementation of all TRP agreements and initiatives.
Deles thanked OIC Secretary-General Iyad bin Amin Madani for personally taking steps to push the TRP and the two fronts’ unification by making an unprecedented trip to the Philippines last year.
During his visit, Madani met with the MNLF and MILF leaders in Davao City and held personal meetings with President Benigno S. Aquino III and the leaders of Congress regarding the enactment into law of the BBL.
In her opening statement, Deles also underscored the strategic implications of the completion of the TRP to the wider of national and regional security.
“The OIC is bending over and exerting extraordinary efforts to make this Tripartite Review Process a way forward, another workable political paradigm for the world’s Ummah in the search for communal harmony and balance, an ideal to which we all also firmly aspire and commit to relentlessly pursue. With the completion of the Tripartite Review Process, Mindanao stands on the threshold to open a new order of peace in a time when the entire global system faces huge, hard challenges, especially in Asia and the Middle East,” Deles said.
This was echoed by Madani, who said in his own statement that the OIC “is very concerned” with the status of the Bangsamoro peace process, and is doing its best to help “bridge” the gaps to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao, and encouraged the international community, especially the ones in the Asian region, to continue doing what they can in helping the process.
Deles said the review process is very much ready to proceed to the implementation phase.
“Stepping up the level of convergence of the Bangsamoro fronts with the implementation of 42 consensus points of the Tripartite Review Process and the operationalization of the Bangsamoro Development Assistance Fund and the Tripartite Implementation Monitoring Committee will draw forth more enduring, longer-term international support for the cause of Bangsamoro self-determination. We must view our present and immediate actions through the lens of such essentially long view. This convergence will vindicate and validate all the truths and wisdom in the 1996 Final Peace Agreement as complemented and improved by the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, and also therefore do justice to the long struggle of the Bangsamoro,” she said.
“In sum and at this instance, then, we look forward to reach a conclusion of the review process with our esteemed counterparts in the MNLF, under the wise guidance and firm auspices of the OIC,” Deles added.
The Philippine delegation is composed of National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Secretary Yasmin Busran-Lao, Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis,Undersecretary Nabil Tan of the Office of the Executive Secretary, Undersecretary Zabedin Azis of the Department of Justice, Undersecretary Jose Lorena of the Office of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Deputy-Director General Zenonida Brosas of the National Security Council, Brig. Gen. Buenaventura Pascual of the Peace Process Office of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Atty. Anna Tarhata Basman, the Head of the Legal Team of the GPH Peace Negotiating Panel for talks with the MILF, and Regional Governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman and Deputy Regional Governor Yusop Jukiri. ###