COTABATO CITY, APRIL 14, 2023 – The national government and the country’s major Moro fronts have vowed to strengthen their collaboration to ensure the full implementation of all Bangsamoro peace agreements.

This, after Secretary Isidro L. Purisima, acting Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, met separately with Bangsamoro Interim Chief Minister and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chair Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Central Committee Chair Muslimin Sema on Friday.

During the meeting, Purisima reiterated the unwavering commitment of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to the Bangsamoro peace process.

“The President’s guidance is very clear, we need to protect, sustain, and build on the gains of the peace process,” Purisima said.

“What’s important is that we have one direction,” he said, adding that continued communication between all parties is crucial in order to move forward the implementation of the Bangsamoro Peace Process.

Purisima was accompanied by GPH Implementing Panel Cesar Yano, Presidential Assistant David Diciano, head of Bangsamoro Transformation Cluster, and Executive Director Jordan Bayam, of OPAPRU’s Bangsamoro Special Concerns Unit.

Ebrahim said the relationship between the Philippine government and the MILF has greatly improved, and has turned from “adversarial to non-adversarial.”

Both parties vowed to strengthen their “partnership” to ensure the delivery of the commitments contained in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

Ebrahim said that with this strong “partnership,” the parties can resolve pressing issues in the implementation of the peace agreement.

Since the signing of the peace pact in 2014, the implementation of the CAB has achieved major milestones both for the political and normalization tracks.


Resumption of the Decommissioning

The parties also agreed to resume the decommissioning process of the remaining 1,300 combatants under the Phase 3 of the program. At present, at least 24,844 combatants have undergone the decommissioning process. 

The third phase of decommissioning is set to resume by the middle of 2023. The fourth phase of the decommissioning process will commence after the completion of the third phase.

At least 4,625 weapons have also been decommissioned, while ammunition numbering to about 6,852 were turned in and disposed of since the program started in 2015.

A crucial aspect of the Normalization Program is the socio-economic component. That is the reason why the government has invested around Php 3.15-billion in funds for socio-economic development programs since 2015.


Political Track 

Under the political track, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) was established following the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law. 

The BARMM interim government, which is being run by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), is now focused on completing the seven priority codes.

These codes are the  Bangsamoro Local Governance Code, Bangsamoro IP Code, Revenue Code, the Bangsamoro Administrative Code, Bangsamoro Civil Service Code, Bangsamoro Education Code, and  Bangsamoro Electoral Code.

To date, four priority legislation have been enacted by the Bangsamoro Parliament: (1) the Bangsamoro Administrative Code or Bangsamoro Autonomy Act (BAA) No. 13; (2) Bangsamoro Civil Service Code or BAA No. 17;  Bangsamoro Education Code; and  Bangsamoro Electoral Code.

With the passage of the Bangsamoro Electoral Code, the BARMM is scheduled to have its first regular election in 2025.

President Marcos has, time and again, expressed his full support to the Bangsamoro peace process.

During the 9th anniversary of the CAB last March 27, President Marcos said: “We in the national government will do our part to fulfill our commitments under the peace agreements and see its full implementation. We shall not waver from this.”


MNLF Transformation

During the meeting with the MNLF, both parties agreed to begin the implementation of the Transformation Program of the MNLF combatants.

“Ang Moro National Liberation Front has been committed to peace since 1976 [until] when we signed the 1996 final peace agreement. Tuloy-tuloy po ang pagsasagawa ng liderato ng MNLF na i-lead, pangunahan ang buong pwersa ng MNLF na isagalang at i-honor ang peace agreements na ating pinirmahan,” Sema said.

“Inaasahan ng pamahalaan na masisimulan na ang pagpapatupad ng Transformation Program para sa ating mga kapatid na MNLF sa Basilan at iba pang lugar dito sa Mindanao sa pagsapit ng Mayo ngayong taon na ito,” stressed Purisima.   

“Ito ay upang matiyak na ang pondo na nakalaan para sa ating mga MNLF combatants, kanilang pamilya at mga komunidad ay magagamit upang maibigay ang mga pangunahing serbisyo at mas mapataas ang antas ng kanilang kabuhayan,” he added.

The peace process with the MNLF started during the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. with the signing of the Tripoli Agreement in 1978, which has served as the foundation of succeeding peace agreements such as the 1996 Final Peace Agreement and the CAB.

Just like the Normalization Program for the MILF, the Transformation Program for the MNLF aims to transform former MNLF combatants and their families into peaceful and productive members of society, and areas camps in progressive and resilient communities.


Duyog Ramadan

The meeting of Purisima with the top MNLF and MILF leaders is part of the continuous peacebuilding efforts of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) in Mindanao. 

The OPAPRU is currently carrying out the Duyog Ramadan, a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to promote social healing, mutual understanding and reconciliation among residents affected by armed conflict.

Scheduled from April 11 to 20, the month-long event, will be held in MILF and MNLF camps, as well as shelter camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the provinces of Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur including Marawi City, North Cotabato, Sulu and Basilan. 

Duyog Ramadan is an expression of the OPAPRU’s solidarity with members of the Muslim faith during the holy month of Ramadan.

Activities include a dialogue-cum-forum on the status of the peace process as well as the provision of food packages, among others. 

Among the highlights of the event are the peace dialogues wherein members of the community, especially those who were victims of violence, are able to express their views and sentiments. 

These discussions have helped participants recover from the trauma caused by their past experiences and rebuild their lives. 

This year’s Duyog Ramadan emphasizes the values of love, compassion, and tolerance as members of the Muslim faith observe the holy month of Ramadan. Through the occasion, OPAPRU aims to help break down the walls of fear, mistrust, and animosity, and build bridges of peace, reconciliation and unity among Filipinos. ###