August 24, 2018, Cotabato City — A total of 67 student-beneficiaries from Shariff Saydona Mustapha and Datu Salibo received their National Certificate II from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) after successfully passing the required competency assessment for Driving NC II Course.
PASIG CITY, August 23, 2018 – Around 40 peace stakeholders gathered here today to participate in a writeshop aimed at producing the program document for the Normalization Program in the Bangsamoro.
ZAMBOANGA CITY, August 18, 2018 – A top police official here attributed the reduction in the crime rate in the Zamboanga Peninsula to the success of the peace process in Mindanao.
“The prevailing good peace and order situation in Zamboanga Peninsula is a result of the positive effects of the peace process,” Zamboanga Peninsula Police regional director Chief Superintendent Billy Beltran said during the visit of the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC) of the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Thursday here.
Beltran said threats from Moro revolutionary groups have been drastically reduced because of the developments in the Bangsamoro peace process, particularly with the recent signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) by President Rodrigo Duterte.
He noted that since the peace process made substantial progress, the cities and provinces in the Zamboanga Peninsula have not recorded any incident of bombings and other serious terror attacks.
“There’s a downtrend crime rate in the region,” Beltran said.
Zamboanga Peninsula Region covers the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay, along with the chartered cities of Zamboanga City and Isabela City in the island province of Basilan.
“Mindanao has so much potential and promise, and this all depends on the success of the peace process,” Beltran said.
Sustaining the gains of peace is one of the primary reasons of the JNC’s visit in the Police Regional Headquarters here, said JNC co-chair Dickson Hermoso, Assistant Secretary for Peace and Security Affairs of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and member of the GPH-MILF Implementing Panel.
“We no longer consider the MILF as our counterparts but as our partners. With the passage of the BOL there’s a strong hope ahead of us,” Hermoso said of the relationship between the government and the MILF.
He said the visit is also part of the JNC’s mission to touch base and coordinate with key military and police headquarters in Mindanao as a move to prepare the parties to embark on the Normalization Track of the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB).
One of the annexes in the peace deal, the Normalization Track includes the decommissioning of MILF fighters, turning in of weapons, and the setting up of a composite security team.
All this is to support peace and security work during the transition period before the formal establishment of the government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in 2022 following the recent enactment of the BOL.
“There is a need to closely coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police units on the ground to effectively implement and carry out the phases and activities under the Normalization program,” Hermoso said.
The Normalization Track will be done in four phases involving four aspects covering eight dimensions, which include the disbandment of private armed groups, provision of socio-economic programs for the combatants and their communities, and transitional justice and reconciliation.
Sammy Al Mansour, chief of staff of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, said normalization and peace are inseparable.
“If there is normalization, there is peace. If there is no normalization, there will be no peace. So this is a challenge to all of us because we have to normalize the situation in order to have peace,” he said.
AFP Peace and Development Office chief Colonel Cesar de Mesa reiterated the need for the government security forces, MILF-BIAF, communities, and other peace partners to work hand-in-hand to ensure the success of the peace process.
“We have to support it and give it a chance. We worked and fought hard for it for decades, and now we have succeeded,” he said.
The team also visited the Western Mindanao Command and has made the rounds in other military and PNP camps in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Central Mindanao. ###
JULY 27, 2018 – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) yesterday, a day after receiving the enrolled bill from Congress on Wednesday night.
Duterte, the first Mindanaoan president, signed the “Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao” three days after his third State of the Nation Address.
The hallmark piece of legislation is one of his campaign promises to address the centuries-old clamor of the Moro people for self-governance over their ancestral lands in Mindanao.
The Bangsamoro Organic Law is based on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) – a peace deal that was signed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014 under the Aquino government.
The law will strengthen the current autonomy set-up of the region, giving the new Bangsamoro government more control over resources and political power.
Under the new law, the Bangsamoro region will adopt a parliamentary system composed of representatives from different sectors, which also include non-Moro indigenous peoples, women, youth and Christian settlers from the region.
A plebiscite is scheduled to be held later this year throughout the identified five provinces of the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and six other municipalities in Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays in North Cotabato which are outside the domain of ARMM
Thousands of MILF fighters will undergo a decommissioning process. Firearms will be handed over to an international third party, while MILF camps will be transformed into peaceful and unarmed communities.
The leadership of the MILF had earlier commended the Duterte administration for fulfilling its promise to bring peace in Mindanao.
Peace negotiations between the government and the MILF commenced in 1997 a year after the government signed a peace deal with the Moro National Liberation Front in September 1996.
The talks with the MILF formally opened in October 1999 in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.
The talks, however, bogged down in 2000 when then-President Joseph Estrada declared “all-out war” against the MILF.
In 2008, under the administration of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain was scheduled to be signed by the government and MILF.
The Supreme Court, however, issued a temporary restraining order against it. This led to major armed conflicts in some parts in Mindanao which displaced hundreds of thousands of individuals.
A major breakthrough was achieved on October 15, 2012 when both parties signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB). The FAB outlines the general features of the political settlement between the government and the MILF.
The FAB led to the signing of the CAB.
However, the first version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in 2016 failed to pass the legislative mill over low public support following the Mamasapano incident.
The Duterte administration continued the process by creating a more inclusive Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that will redraft the BBL.
President Duterte signed Executive Order No. 8, increasing the members of the BTC from 15 to 21 to include representatives from the MNLF and other stakeholders on November 2016.
In July 2017, the BTC turned over to President Duterte a newly drafted BBL. Exactly a year later, the Senate and House of Representatives were able to reconcile their respective versions and approve it following a week-long marathon hearing. ###
BiCam meet for BBL kicks off today
The Bicameral Conference for the Bangsamoro Basic Law begins today as lawmakers work to reconcile the Senate and House versions of the law at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria.
Nine Senators and 18 members of the House of Representatives compose the Bicameral Conference Committee that will resolve the varying provisions of the House Bill No. 6475 and Senate Bill No. 1717.
Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza and Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Nabil Tan are also present.
In a statement, Guiamel Alim, Chairperson of Bangsamoro Civil Society, said enacting a BBL that “addresses the root causes of the conflict and provides for meaningful autonomy is not only good for the Bangsamoro, it is also an opportunity for the Philippine Government to show that it is able to address violent conflicts, such as that in Mindanao, through diplomatic means.”
Meanwhile, BTC Commissioner Maisara Damdamun-Latiph called on the lawmakers to strengthen the BBL on the following components:
1. Fiscal Autonomy by removing the conditions in the Block Grant, making it at par with the IRA of LGUs;
2. Proper allocation of powers in accordance with CAB and not less than ARMM;
3. Stronger policing in relation to Normalization and Decommissioning;
4. Inland Waters like Lake Lanao in relation to preservation, conservation, power generation, and regulation; and
5. Territory on the Plebiscite of 6 Municipalities of Lanao del Sur and 39 Barangays of North Cotabato in accordance with CAB
6. Bangsamoro identity
STATEMENT ON THE IMMEDIATE PASSAGE OF THE ENHANCED BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW (BBL)
The Blue Bridge firmly and earnestly supports the immediate passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) with the belief on its unequivocal aspiration of harboring peace on our beloved land of Mindanao. The publication strongly believes that with the full implementation of its signed agreements, the long standing distress of conflicts and violent extremism suffered by the innocent will be addressed and given resolution.
As peace advocates, we believe that the agreement will correct the history of the islands, stained by injustices. We place our faith on the legislators to urgently pass the law to further assemble the foundation of lasting peace that for decades, have constrained the Mindanaons to conflict and inequity.
We urge the student community of Ateneo de Davao University Senior High School to elevate the works for peace both in offline and online platforms. It is time to liberate the Land of Promise from years of terror brought by divisiveness.
We stand with our brothers and sisters who plead for no more wars and bullets. There is no better time to let social justice prevail than now.