Friday, April 1, 2016

Bangsamoro peace process 'stronger' despite BBL non-passage

Bangsamoro peace process 'stronger' despite BBL non-passage

COTABATO CITY –Both the Government of the Philippines (MILF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) projected  a unified message of upholding the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process and continuing the fight for the passage of the stalled Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during the commemoration of the second anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

“Together, we kept moving ever onwards, determined to give this tired, tired land the fresh start it so sorely needs, and keeping faith that in the end, peace will always win. Our faith is not misplaced: the peace process, while badly hit, remains intact; while battered, it has emerged, I daresay, even stronger,” said Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles during the CAB anniversary celebration held at the Notre Dame University gymnasium in the City earlier this week.

“We have attained much despite the setbacks and difficulties we have faced.  Perhaps most important of these achievements is the fact that we have managed to foster a felt measure of peace on the ground even as the peace process is still moving towards its conclusion,” emphasized  Deles.

The event was attended by around 500 guests comprised of local and international peace actors and stakeholders, including the MILF combatants who were decommissioned in June last year.‎ Each of the ceasefire and peace mechanism bodies established under the Bangsamoro peace process umbrella were represented as well. Both GPH chief negotiator Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal were present at the event to honor and recognize those who have been instrumental to the success of the process.

Deles who gave the closing remarks gave recognition and thanked those who accompanied and supported the peace process. “Our commitment today would not be complete without giving full acknowledgement and heartfelt thanks to all the staunch advocates of peace who have faithfully accompanied the peace process to where it is now.  While many are unable to join us here today, we salute you all and remember with gratitude those who have gone ahead.  You have our nation’s gratitude.”

Aside from the presentation of plaques of recognition and appreciation, a public viewing of various films and documentaries on the lives and hopes of the Bangsamoro was also held as facilitated by non-partisan international organization Forum Civil Peace Service (forumZFD). The event likewise featured a photo exhibit depicting the dichotomy of peace and war for guests to experience and enjoy. Food booths were also set up around the venue to provide local delicacies and refreshments to the attendees.

MILF Chair Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim on the other hand was unable to attend, but sent a statement saying it would be a big mistake for Bangsamoro peace stakeholders to discontinue the pursuit of peace and development not only in the Bangsamoro but in the whole of Mindanao and across the Philippines despite the delays on the Bangsamoro peace process.

“Turning our backs on the peace process would be a mistake. After all, we have the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro intact... which is over and above the Bangsamoro Basic Law. This silver lining among the dark clouds is the legitimacy of the CAB and its binding effect to the GPH and the MILF that forged the mutually acceptable agreement two (2) years ago,” said Murad.

The statement likewise said that “It will take patience, steadfastness and leadership on both sides to reach the ultimate goal of achieving just and lasting peace. And even if the roadmap was not met, the signed CAB would at least ensure that commitments are kept and compliance is demandable."

BBL must be passed by next administration

Secretary Deles stressed that despite the failure of Congress to pass the BBL, the CAB remains intact and the passage of the BBL early in the next administration should be pursued. “We must make the CAB not only intact but indelible.  We must ensure the fulfilment of its political and legal promise in the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law early in the next administration, even as we undertake the difficult, more long-term task of dealing with the painful past and healing its deep wounds,” Deles explained.

“President Aquino has repeatedly affirmed this commitment to the peace accord up to his last day in office and beyond.  The CAB, after all, is a commitment to peace that must and will span beyond administration,” she added.
“No one can be certain of the policies or priorities of the next administration. This is why, more than ever, we need to assert the CAB and its implementation, which ensures the most reasonable framework for a sustainable basis for peace, stability and development,” Murad concurred.

Murad, on the other hand, called on presidential candidates in the May 9 elections to acknowledge the CAB and ensure that its provisions are honored to ensure the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the region.

“Acknowledging that the CAB lives on and binds the parties is a good start to guide the incoming administration. Whoever wins the elections must honor the CAB and place it among the top of his or her agenda to ensure that everyone’s obligations are fulfilled. He or she must recognize that while the risk of failure is high, so are the costs of failure,” he said.

“We must continue to work on the building blocks of peace and preserve the gains thereof so that we can keep moving, as one nation, ever closer to a peace that will thrive and endure,” added Deles.






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