Political, Muslim leaders seeking seats in transition commission

Posted on December 11, 2012

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Governors and Muslim leaders in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are seeking participation in the transition commission that will be formed to draft the basic law on the planned Bangsamoro region and recommend possible amendments in the Constitution.

In a four-page resolution passed during the forum of the Framework of the Bangsamoro in the island-province of Sulu last week, governors in the five-province ARMM said there is a need for the commission to be inclusive since the future of their areas are at stake.

They also sought representation from the ulama (Muslim spiritual leaders) and women sector.

The transition commission -- which has yet to be created in an executive order -- will be composed of 15 members, with seven members to be appointed by the government and eight members, including the chairman, to be selected by the MILF.

The commission’s objective is to have a Bangsamoro basic law before the Aquino administration steps down in 2016.

The law will need to undergo a plebiscite in the Bangsamoro areas that were identified in the framework agreement, which will replace ARMM.

The MILF has earlier agreed to trim down the transition period from six to three years to align with the term of President Benigno S. C. Aquino III.

Ghazali Jaafar, MILF vice-chairman for political affairs, has earlier said that representatives of key sectors of society should be included in the commission.

For her part, Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Q. Deles said the government also wants the commission’s composition as inclusive as possible.

"We are committed to such for an inclusive a table as possible in the crafting of the new law on the Bangsamoro," she has said.

"We are pushing for ethnic, gender and generational balance. As we have previously stated, we are committed to ensure MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) representation in the transition commission. The same goes for the indigenous people."

Ms. Deles said the government has no "short list yet," but it is open to receiving "applications and nominations for the commission."

The governors said they are also asking for the government and MILF to reconsider their request for them to be "members of the domestic groups of the third-party monitoring team" in overseeing the ceasefire agreement.

The government and the MILF are expected to conclude talks on three annexes of the framework deal, namely: power sharing; wealth sharing; and normalization, including the schedule of decommissioning of the MILF.

The two sides will resume the talks sometime this month in Kuala Lumpur. -- D. T. Wee