MANILA—A comprehensive peace road map that hopefully will bring about peace and development in the land got the presidential imprimatur during a closed door meeting late Monday afternoon, July 18, in Malacañan.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved en toto or in its entirety the peace formula presented by Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza, which will address the Bangsamoro issue, the impending resumption of peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF), and the implementation of closure agreements with other rebel groups in the country.
At the same time, the President adopted Dureza's proposed strategy of implementing massive development on the ground simultaneously with the work to implement agreements that government had entered into.
"I can sign a hundred peace agreements but if those on the ground do not immediately feel the dividends of peace, those agreements will not be sustainable," Dureza said in his presentation.
President Duterte forthwith directed that the executive order of the peace office be amended to enable it to oversee all development projects and at the same time empower it to implement projects that are related to peace.
On the Bangsamoro, President Duterte declared that we are now already on the “implementation stage as the time for negotiations are over".
The roadmap now entails the operationalization of a mechanism where an all-Moro body will be tasked to draft anew a more inclusive proposed enabling law that will be filed with Congress in lieu of the so-called Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that was not passed by the previous Congress when it adjourned.
The peace strategy envisions the consolidation and/or convergence of the various peace agreements already entered into like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the Moro National Liberation Front's 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA), including relevant provisions of the Republic Act No. 9054 (or the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Law) and the Indigenous People's Rights Act (IPRA).
The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) provided for in the CAB will be reconstituted with representation coming from the MILF, MNLF, the ARMM, and other Bangsamoro representatives.
Work on the new proposed Bangsamoro enabling law will be done simultaneous with the moves to shift to a federal set-up, the latter expected to come later under the planned time line.
The reconstituted and inclusive BTC will also be mandated to propose amendments to the Philippine Constitution that are pertinent to the Bangsamoro as inputs towards eventual federalism in the land.
In the same Malacañan meeting, President Duterte also approved the way forward in the impending resumption of peace talks with communist rebels.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, government panel chair to the talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF, led in the oath taking of the new panel members.
The resumption of talks reset tentatively to the middle of August 2016 will be preceded by the release of some 11 leaders of the CPP/NPA/NDF, who are presently detained and who will participate in the talks.
President Duterte directed that legal procedures be complied with to effect their temporary releases pursuant to the previously signed Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
Incoming Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and incoming House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez were invited to the Malacañan meeting and expressed support to the new peace road map.
Both leaders also committed to send their respective representatives from both Houses to assist in the peace work. An enabling law will have to be passed by Congress to implement the new peace road map of the Duterte administration. ###