Nation


Gov’t, MILF prepare to implement CAB; talks with communists set Aug. 22  




Posted on August 10, 2016


DAVAO CITY -- The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will meet in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on August 13 to plan initial steps towards implementing the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) even without an enabling law,  Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza announced yesterday. 

The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), drafted under the previous administration based on the CAB signed in March 2014, was not passed by the 16th Congress that closed in June this year.  

“We will be discussing with the MILF panel how to move forward,” Mr. Dureza said in a press conference here. 

The two sides will each have a five-member implementing panel, with Irene M. Santiago heading the government side, to discuss which provisions of the CAB can be rolled out without waiting for the passage of a BBL, which will have to be re-filed in the current Congress. 

“The implementation phase of the CAB might become the springboard in the drafting of the enabling law that will replace the shelved Bangsamoro Basic Law,” Mr. Dureza said. 

He also stressed that the peace roadmap for the Bangsamoro will be inclusive, which means all stakeholders will be given voice, including the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which already signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996. 

Mr. Dureza said the original plan was to immediately include the MNLF in the CAB implementing panels, but “internal conflict” within the group remains unresolved. 

“Our government implementing panel will take care of dealing with these individual groups that they will establish so that there will be real convergence,” said Mr. Dureza.

On Tuesday, Mr. Dureza met with a faction of the MNLF headed by former Cotabato City mayor Muslim Sema. 

The other faction headed by Nurullaji Misuari, who is currently a fugitive as he is facing charges for the Zamboanga City siege in 2013, has yet to meet with government representatives, although Mr. Dureza said Ms. Misuari has been communicating with President Rodrigo R. Duterte. 

Mr. Dureza said they, along with the Organization of Islamic Conference, have been reviewing the 1996 peace deal with the MNLF and several points in the agreement could be included in the BBL that may eventually get passed in Congress. 

TALKS WITH NDFP
Meanwhile, peace talks government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) will push through in Oslo, Norway on August 22, Mr. Dureza said.

“The schedule remains the same… All preparations are going on for the peace talks in Oslo. We are ready to take the trip,” Mr. Dureza said, noting that the two-day delay from the original Aug. 20 schedule is simply to give way for the government representatives’ travel time. 

Doubts about the resumption of the peace talks surfaced after the President slammed on Sunday the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), which belong to the NDFP), for its continued use of land mines in attacking military forces, which is against the Geneva Convention.

However, Mr. Dureza clarified that there has been no reported land mine explosions lately, thus the peace talks will push through. 

“We will stay the course… Traveling the road to peace has its bumps along the way,” he said.

The CPP issued a statement Monday saying that what they have been using are “command-detonated explosives”, which do not fall under the Geneva Convention prohibitions. 

On the release of jailed NDFP members who will be taking part in the Oslo negotiations, Mr. Dureza said, “We were able to secure the release of three of them from the Supreme Court but those whose cases do not fall under the SC we will have to thresh out with the local courts.”

In a statement issued yesterday, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process clarified that the SC did not dismiss the government’s request to grant temporary liberties to  key members of the NDF for the formal peace negotiations, rather the high court merely explained that it does not have jurisdiction to decide on cases before the local ones. -- Carmelito Q. Francisco and Carmencita A. Carillo