EU funds publication of Bangsamoro law primer

bangsamoro basic law
Bong S Sarmiento
GENERAL SANTOS CITY

A PRIMER on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), funded by the European Union (EU), was presented to the public on Friday.

The BBL is the measure now deliberated in Philippine Congress to legalise the creation of the new Bangsamoro government in Mindanao.

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which crafted the BBL, presented to the public the BBL primer during a ceremony in Mandaluyong City in Metro Manila.

The primer will be in English and six local languages, and more than 50,000 copies will be published.

“As part of the EU’s long-standing support for the peace process in Mindanao, we are very pleased that EU funds have enabled the production of this key publication,” EU Ambassador to the Philippines Guy Ledoux said in a news release.

Attending the public presentation were Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles, Secretary Yasmin Busran-Lao of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, BTC chair Mohagher Iqbal and Malaysian facilitator Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed.

Malaysia brokered the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation (MILF).

The GPH and the MILF signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), their final peace agreement, last March after 17 years of negotiations.

The key feature of the CAB is the creation of the Bangsamoro government that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The BBL is a tool which can be used to organise conversation, debate, and dialogue with all the stakeholders.

It will again prove to be an excellent tool in the preparations for the future plebiscite. It will help to describe, explain, and clarify the various aspects of the law and how this will affect the everyday life of the Bangsamoro people, the EU Philippine Delegation statement said.

The publication of the primer has to be considered a further effort of the BTC to make the peace process as transparent as possible, by enabling everyone to clearly see its benefits.

It has the ultimate objective of inclusiveness so that the negotiated peace settlement would be truly sustainable, it added.

The Brunei Times
Sunday, November 30, 2014

bangsamoro map

http://www.bt.com.bn/news-asia/2014/11/30/eu-funds-publication-bangsamoro-law-primer

MILF forms political party for 2016

Mohagher Iqbal

Mohagher Iqbal


Germelina Lacorte
COTABATO CITY, MINDANAO

THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is now starting a political party that will bring the group waging over four decades of war in Mindanao to participate in the 2016 elections.

Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace panel, told reporters in a side interview during the launch of the European Union’s Journalism Awards here on Friday that the MILF’s involvement in the political exercise would finally shift the group’s paradigm away from bullets and toward ballots by participating in the elections.

“We have already started to organize the MILF political party because as a group coming from a conflict situation to a peace settlement situation, we have to engage in a regular political exercise—meaning not through bullets anymore but through the ballot,” said Iqbal, who heads the MILF panel in the talks with the government that ended with the signing of the peace agreement early this year.

He didn’t know yet who would run and for what positions, Iqbal said. It was premature to divulge the details, he added.

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission would help prepare the MILF leadership for the prospect, he said. “In the interim, there will still be the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, but after that, it’s free for all,” Iqbal said.

“Whoever wins will run the Bangsamoro government,” he added.

The draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), or the law that will provide how the Bangsamoro shall be governed, has to be passed and ratified by Congress before it is submitted to the people in a plebiscite.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles earlier said in an interview in Davao City that both panels hoped to complete the decommissioning of MILF forces before the 2016 elections to allow the group to participate in the elections.

“I hope the decommissioning will be completed before 2016 because it would be unthinkable for an Army to participate in the elections,” Deles said.

Although the symbolic decommissioning of MILF forces already started as soon as the draft BBL reached Congress last month, the MILF can only effect the decommissioning of 30 percent of its forces once Congress ratifies the law.

Iqbal said that the decommissioning of another 35 percent will take effect once the Bangsamoro police is established; and another 35 percent, after all the signed agreements and documents are fully implemented.

“Decommissioning does not mean you have to surrender or destroy your firearms,” Iqbal said.

“There are conditionalities attached to each of its phases,” he said.

“[In] the first phase, which includes the symbolic decommissioning once the draft of the proposed law is submitted to Congress, [it is] only when Congress passes and ratifies the BBL that the MILF will undertake

30 percent of its arms,” he added.

He said that another 35 percent will take effect once the Bangsamoro police is established.

“Full decommissioning, which takes place after the MILF undertakes another 35 percent of its forces, can only begin once all the agreements and documents [they have signed] are implemented in the Bangsamoro,” he said.

Iqbal also expressed confidence that Congress will pass the BBL before

June 2015.

“I think the BBL will pass through Congress,” Iqbal said.

“We have been very consistent in saying that we trust the collective wisdom of the members of Congress,” he added.

He also described the reception of the peace agreement among Christian communities as generally “warm,” noting the enthusiasm and the warm reception expressed by Cotabato Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo and Fr. Eliseo Mercado Jr. in Cotabato City, although fears are being expressed in Basilan province and Zamboanga City, which Iqbal said were unfounded.

About critics and spoilers, he said: “That’s a reality for all peace settlements, but what’s important is, at the end of the day, we’ll be able to handle all those issues and move forward until we finally settle them.”

Philippine Daily Inquirer

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MILF chief: Bangsamoro to bolster Islam in Mindanao

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Benigno S Aquino III

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Benigno S Aquino III


Bong S Sarmiento
KORONADAL CITY, PHILIPPINES

THE creation of the Bangsamoro government will not only bring peace and prosperity to Muslim Filipinos but, more importantly, will advance and bolster Islam as a way of life in Mindanao.

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), issued such pronouncement as he greeted the entire Muslim Ummah in the celebration of the holy feast of Aidil Adha or the Feast of Sacrifice.

October 6 was a national holiday in the Philippines for the celebration of Aidil Adha.

“Alhamdulillah, our more than 40 years of long struggle for freedom and self-determination is now gradually bearing fruits,” he said.

The Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF signed last March 27 the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), their final peace agreement after 17 years of negotiations.

The CAB envisions the creation of the new Bangsamoro region that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“With the help of Allah, Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala, our hope for justice, peace and prosperity for the Bangsamoro people and homeland and most importantly the advancement of Islam as our way of life is bolstered and strengthened,” Murad said.

The Bangsamoro government will be legalised with the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and its ratification by the constituents in the proposed territory, the core of which is the ARMM.

ARMM comprises the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan.

President Benigno S Aquino III submitted a BBL draft mutually agreed by the GPH and the MILF last September 10 to the Philippine Congress, which is composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Aquino and Murad had met twice in Japan to push the peace process forward, which has gained support not only from the domestic front but also from the international community.

The President has certified the BBL as a priority legislative measure of the administration. The leadership of both houses of Congress has vowed to support the bill.

Murad said it is vital for the Bangsamoro people to carefully examine the BBL “because ultimately, we will all be beneficiaries to the dividends of the fruit of the peace we have been striving our level best to attain and preserve.”

He also called on those who have not yet registered to enlist so they can participate in the plebiscite.

Murad said they expect the plebiscite to take place “before the end of 2014 or early 2015.”

The MILF had agreed to decommission its firearms as part of the normalisation process.

The Brunei Times
Tuesday, October 7, 2014

http://www.bt.com.bn/news-asia/2014/10/07/milf-chief-bangsamoro-bolster-islam-mindanao

Brunei invited to join body for decommissioning of MILF fighters

bru minda Prime-IMT-ContigentBong S Sarmiento
KORONADAL CITY, Philippines

ASIDE from its membership to the International Monitoring Team (IMT) in the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Brunei Darussalam was invited to join the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) that will oversee the transformation of MILF fighters into productive and peace-loving citizens.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim disclosed this development on Friday after a high-level delegation from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF), led by Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Major General Dato Seri Pahlawan Mohd Tawih Abdullah, paid a visit Thursday to Camp Darapanan, the MILF’s main headquarter in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

“Brunei is honoured for the invitation to join the IDB and the Brunei Armed Forces are optimistic about this invitation,” Pehin Major General Dato Mohd Tawih said in a statement released by the MILF. The parties reiterated their commitment and cooperation to realise the success of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by the MILF and Government of the Philippines last March 27, 2014 in Malacanang, the seat of the Philippine government.

In his statement, Murad said the coming to Camp Darapanan, particularly during the blessed month of Ramadhan, of RBAF Commander Pehin Dato Major General Dato Mohd Tawih is a clear manifestation of the strong commitment and support of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam to the Philippines-MILF peace process.

“On behalf of the MILF and the Bangsamoro people, kindly convey to His Majesty’s government our heartfelt gratitude and appeal for a more comprehensive participation and support from the Government of Brunei to the peace process,” Murad stressed.

Along with Brunei, the Philippines and MILF have also invited Norway and Turkey to be part of the IDB, whose major mandate is to oversee the decommissioning of the MILF forces and put their weapons beyond use.

Since the start of the deployment of the IMT in 2004 to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire agreement between the government and MILF, Brunei has been a member-state sending the second biggest contingent on the ground.

The RBAF commander reiterated the strong commitment of Brunei for the success of the CAB signed by the government and MILF.

“We congratulate the government and MILF for [signing the] CAB, which we truly believe is going to be a just and lasting solution to the conflict, and will certainly bring unity and prosperity for the entire country,” he said.

The Brunei Times
Sunday, July 13, 2014

http://www.bt.com.bn/news-national/2014/07/13/brunei-invited-join-body-decommissioning-milf-fighters

Manila, MILF end KL meeting on a ‘positive note’

Bangsamoro_PHILIPPINES_REBEL_PEACE_AGREEMENTBong S Sarmiento
KORONADAL CITY

THE peace panels of the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front ended Friday their four-day special meeting on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) “on a positive note.”

In a joint press statement, the government and MILF peace panels, chaired respectively by Prof Miriam Coronel Ferrer and Mohagher Iqbal, said they discussed the contents of the draft BBL as submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and reviewed by the legal team of the Office of the President.

“They achieved modest progress and identified consensus language in the light of signed agreements. They resolved to continue working together to come up with a mutually acceptable draft Bangsamoro Basic Law,” the statement said.

“The meeting provided the panels the opportunity to clarify misperceptions and affirm the intent and sincerity of the parties to abide by the signed agreements,” it added.

The joint statement said the parties agreed to continue discussions on specific concerns in Manila within the next few days.

They recognise the importance of these discussions in order to ensure that the draft law would be submitted to Congress at the soonest possible time, it said.

The five-paragraph joint statement, however, did not specify the particular issues discussed by the panels.

The four-day meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was held after the BTC, the agency mandated to draft the BBL, issued a resolution elevating to the peace panels for clarification and resolution the outstanding issues on the draft BBL.

Members of the BTC, as well as the International Contact Group, were present to observe the discussions.

The meeting was hosted and facilitated by His Excellency Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed, the Malaysian facilitator for the peace negotiations.

The peace panels thank the public for their continued support towards the common objective of bringing a just resolution to the conflict in Mindanao, their joint statement said.

The BBL will legalise the creation of the Bangsamoro government, which the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) envisions to establish in place of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The CAB is the final peace deal signed last March by the government and the MILF after 17 years of negotiations.

Both Ferrer and Iqbal suggested earlier that the parties are eager in settling the issues on the BBL “so as not to put to waste the significant gains in the Mindanao peace process,” which was capped by the signing of the CAB.

The Brunei Times
Saturday, July 12, 2014

http://www.bt.com.bn/news-asia/2014/07/12/manila-milf-end-kl-meeting-%E2%80%98positive-note%E2%80%99

Manila, MILF to discuss law in KL

manila milfBong S Sarmiento
GENERAL SANTOS CITY

THE peace panels of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will meet this week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to iron out issues arising from the government’s proposed revisions to the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the government’s chief negotiator said yesterday.

GPH chief negotiator Professor Miriam Coronel Ferrer said the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which drafted the BBL, passed a resolution last Thursday “elevating the matter or process to the peace panels for clarification, discussion and resolution of issues that may have been affected by the proposed revisions in the proposed BBL, in the higher interest of finding a lasting solution to the conflict in Mindanao”.

“To begin with, neither the BTC draft nor the OP (Office of the President)-reviewed text is so complete and perfect to leave no more room for discussion, or no other option but to choose between one or the other,” she said in an emailed statement.

“Closed options have never been the practice in our past negotiation. It shouldn’t be now in the implementation stage. Then and now, ‘problem-solving’ has defined our modalities and this approach has produced the workable results that brought us this far,” Ferrer added.

She did not disclose the exact date but noted that BTC members, along with the International Contact Group, will also attend the workshop meeting in Malaysia, the third party facilitator.

The BBL will legalise the creation of the Bangsamoro government, which the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) envisions to establish in place of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The CAB is the final peace deal signed by the government and the MILF after 17 years of negotiations.

Copies of the draft BBL as well as the revisions recommended by the Office of the President to the measure have not been made public.

Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief peace negotiator and concurrent BTC chairperson, said they remain optimistic the issues on the BBL revisions will be threshed out and that Congress would eventually approve the measure.

He earlier said that the Office of the President’s review and recommendations “heavily diluted the original proposal coming from the BTC”.

“But I don’t think we are in a hopeless situation. I don’t think the parties will allow the situation to degenerate into something we do not like. I still have confidence on both sides’ determination to overcome the perceived hardships ahead of us,” Iqbal said.

In thoroughly reviewing the draft BBL, Ferrer noted that President Benigno S Aquino III wants to “confidently” submit it as an urgent bill shortly after the reopening of Congress on July 28.

Ferrer said that for both the GPH and the MILF, “the bottom line is set by the signed documents that make up the CAB. There is no backtracking on either side. Any perception of backtracking can be duly addressed and rectified during the discussion”.

On the other hand, details beyond the signed documents are policy options that the BTC has taken and which the OP team took care to study and uphold as much as possible, she said.

“If we are going through this difficulty now, it is because we want the next stages to be less difficult not only between the government and the MILF, but among all the institutions and actors that will be or have been playing a role in the process. A well-processed bill that goes through the legislative mill, with the certification of the President as urgent, will stand much better chances of smooth-sailing passage in both the Senate and the House of Representatives,” Ferrer said.

The Brunei Times
Tue, 8 July 2014

http://www.bt.com.bn/news-asia/2014/07/08/manila-milf-discuss-law-kl

Three key elements for treading Bangsamoro’s tricky investment terrain successfully

bangsamor1Cielito F. Habito
MANILA

MUSLIM Mindanao, now known as Bangsamoro, had been an undiscovered gem in the rough through the years. It is endowed with key ingredients for a prime investment area, with superior agro-climatic conditions, abundant primary resources, large tracts of idle lands, and wage rates lower than elsewhere in the country. It also possesses vast scope for economic growth and diversification owing to its geographic and cultural connection to the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga). Yet this is a region where average incomes are among the lowest in the country, and where poverty incidence rose the fastest in the past decade.

The reasons for this contradiction are well-known. Persistent violent conflict had impeded economic activity and deterred investment from both within and outside the region. Infrastructure is poor and inadequate. Land access and security of tenure can be problematic with uncertain instruments of land ownership. The labor force is largely unskilled and unstable. Weak governance and institutions, marked by weak capacities and a checkered history of graft and corruption, further undermine the business environment. The result has been a vicious cycle of low investment and persistent poverty that the region must simply find a way to break out of.

Can the peace agreement turn the preceding sentences into the past tense? The clear need is to raise the level of investments in the region, both from within and outside. But even wealthy individuals from within the region itself, the most logical first investors therein, had preferred to bring their own wealth outside—to Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Metro Manila or overseas. This made it even harder to convince outsiders to overcome their reluctance to put their stakes there. But even the leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front must know that attracting greater investment in Bangsamoro by both locals and outsiders is the only way out of its poverty trap.

The fact is, a good number of firms, both large and small, have already shown that investing in the region need not be a bad business proposition, especially now that violent political conflict is expected to be behind us. Their experiences point to certain enabling factors, useful lessons and “secrets” that allowed them to thrive under the otherwise difficult investment environment in the area. In case studies I did on six such firms (see braintrustinc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Booklet.Braving-It-and-Making-It.pdf), three key elements emerge for treading Bangsamoro’s tricky investment terrain successfully:

First, partner with an influential and enlightened local leader. For an outside investor, finding and working with such a partner in a mutually beneficial business relationship is key. For the thriving La Frutera banana export enterprise in Maguindanao, it was the late Datu Toto Paglas. Beyond the benefit of working with one who “knows the terrain,” such partner can be essential in gaining secure access to needed large areas of land (for an agribusiness enterprise). He can also relieve the outside investor of having to worry about work force management. The respect that a datu or a person of traditional authority commands over locally hired workers is the most effective basis for asserting management authority and enforcing discipline in the workforce.

Second, invest time and effort in building trust and confidence with local partners, leaders and common folk. In Agumil’s palm oil enterprise in Buluan, Maguindanao, Malaysian founder C.K. Chang worked, ate and slept side by side with his workers; plant manager Phil Roy Malana did the same when he first set up the oil mill. A key part of such trust-building is bridging religious differences. Apart from personal gestures in this regard, La Frutera’s John Perrine, Senen Bacani and Ed Bullecer fostered religious understanding in the workplace by requiring their Christian and Muslim workers to spend time studying each other’s faiths. The Spencer family that established the long-standing Matling cassava processing firm in Malabang, Lanao del Sur, earned the trust and esteem of the local community through their sincere gestures of kindness and charity long before conflict arose in the area.

Third, respect and work within local cultural norms and practices, and turn them into positive enablers for the enterprise. To expect workers and the locals to adjust and adapt to the external investor’s enterprise culture is to court instability and failure. Matling was keenly sensitive to the sense of maratabat (honor) among the local populace, and harnessed this in providing effective security for their supervisors. Agumil actively involves local leaders (including datus and the local mayor) in settling conflicts in the workplace, in respect of the authority vested by cultural and historical tradition. La Frutera institutionalized the common practice of sumpat (sharing jobs with family members) by its workers, adjusted working hours during Ramadan, and used social hierarchies to advantage in defining the management structures for workers. BJ Coconut Oil in Sulu similarly ensured that those in supervisory positions inherently command the respect of their subordinates by virtue of social status vested by historical/cultural tradition or royalty.

Recent data indicate that investment interest in Bangsamoro is picking up. With the right enabling governance environment, and investors doing the homework to equip themselves to tread the tricky terrain, Bangsamoro could well be the key driver for inclusive economic growth that it has every potential to be.

Philippine Daily Inquirer
Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

E-mail: cielito.habito@gmail.com

bangsmor

bangsamor map

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