Marcos to Marcos: Mindanao Peace Process Comes Full Circle

“There are as yet many important provisions that are not fully implemented under ‘Normalization’. Also, the Bangsamoro Police that’s in the CAB has been left out.”

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By EDD K. USMAN / @edd1918 / @bluestar0910 / SDN — Science and Digital News

17th Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. takes his oath at the National Museum in Manila. (Credit and thanks to GMA TV)

(SDN) June 30, 2022— It took a long time, 45 years and six months, but it seems fate had it already embedded in stone.

So, starting today, June 30, 2022 at 12:01 p.m., the Mindanao peace process has come full circle.

From President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Sr. to President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.!

The peace process has come a long way, in the case of the new President, at least in the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace agreement forged between the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) the two former warring parties signed on March 27, 2014.

Reckoned from 1976 when the landmark Tripoli Agreement was signed on December 3 in the capital of Libya, under the auspices of the then Organization of Islamic Conference’s, now Cooperation (OIC) Quadripartite Committee, and hosted by Libyan President and Revolutionary Leader Moammar Ghaddafy, the Mindanao peace process is now around 46 years old.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte, as change in administrations happens, will pass on the implementation of the CAB (which was 17 years in the making) to the new President.

Mindanao’s son President Rodrigo R. Duterte. (Credit: Facebook)

One former member of the MILF Peace Panel in the negotiations with GPH, now an official of one of the agencies of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), told SDN — Science and Digital News when asked about many more provisions of the CAB still to be implemented.

“There are as yet many important provisions that are not fully implemented under ‘Normalization’. Also, the Bangsamoro Police that’s in the CAB has been left out,” he points out last month.

Covered by the Political Track is the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), on the other hand, the latter is the process on the decommissioning of MILF combatants, including their weapons, as well as the transformation of many MILF camps into productive and resilient communities.

As early as March 2019 Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez, Jr. said GPH and the MILF were working on the process of implementing the Normalization Track, which required an executive order and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

At present, the GPH and the MILF have already decommissioned MILF 12,000 combatants along with their weapons. The government gave each of the former combatants Php100,000 financial assistant.

MNLF Founding Chairman Nur P. Misuari. (Credit: E.K. Usman)

There are four phases in the decommissioning process, Phases 1 to 4 (so far the last two stages are still be implemented).

MILF Implementing Peace Panel Chairman Mohagher M.  Iqbal said in February 2020 when the second phase of the decommissioning resumed that the “MILF shall undertake the graduated decommissioning of each weapons and combatants parallel and commensurate to the implementation of the other agreement”.

MILF Founder/Chairman Ustadhz Salamat Hashim. (Credit: E.K. Usman)

Iqbal, who wears many hats in the peace process, emphasized that the decommissioning’s third phase covers 35 percent of the total 40,000 combatants to be decommissioned and to be sparked by the operationalization of the Bangsamoro Police Force.

In the fourth, or final, phase of the process of decommissioning to take place, he said it should be with a “substantial compliance of both parties of all the provisions” of the CAB.

It is safe to say the implementation, which the Duterte administration had passed on the Marcos administration will still take some more year.

Legacy of each President in the Mindanao peace process

What happens to the CAB implementation in the next six years will depend on how the new administration views the overall Mindanao peace process. “Overall” covers the peace talks between the GPH and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under Founding Chairman Nur P. Misuari that started with the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and and with the MILF that kicked off in January 1997 in Cagayan de Oro City, Southern Philippines.

Aside from the Tripoli Agreement the MNLF also signed with the GPH the Jeddah Accord signed on January 3, 1987 under the administration of President Corazon C. Aquino, and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) during the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos.

The Jeddah Accord got the two parties to agree “to continue discussion of the proposal for the grant of full autonomy to Mindanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Palawan subject to democratic processes.” On the other hand, the FPA was the product of the continued negotiations that begun in 1994 in Indonesia and ended with its signing on September 2 in Manila.

Peace talks with the MILF founded and chaired by Al-Azhar University of Cairo, Egypt, graduate Ustadhz Salamat Hashim also had a phase in Tripoli, Libya, under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo when her administration opened negotiations with the MILF. Subsequently, the GPH-MILF talks proceeded under the facilitation and hosting of the government of Malaysia, and went on for 17 years since 1997. It gave birthed to the CAB.

From the administrations of Marcos, Sr. to Mrs. Aquino to Ramos to President Joseph Estrada to Arroyo to President Benigno S. Aquino III to Duterte to Marcos, Jr. the Mindanao peace process lives on under eight administrations. So far, a span of around 46 years.

BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag ‘Al-Hajj Murad’ Ebrahim. (Source: BARMM-BIO)

In terms of legacy to the Mindanao search for peace, Marcos, Jr., 1976 Tripoli Agreement; Mrs. Aquino, 1987 Jeddah Accord; Ramos, 1996 FPA; Estrada, 2000 all-out war versus MILF Mindanao-wide; Arroyo, the aborted Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) in 2008 and all-out war against MILF at Buliok Complex in 2003 in Maguindanao and North Cotabato; Aquino III, revival of GPH-MILF talks through his clandestine meeting with MILF Chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim, now BARMM Chief Minister, in Tokyo, Japan, in 2011; and Duterte, the establishment of the BARMM in 2019.

Note that the peace talks in Libya was under Marcos Sr., father and namesake of the May 9, 2022 President.

Thus, the Filipino nation (in general) and the Bangsamoro region (in particular), await the CAB’s implementation under Marcos, Jr.’s administration. What fate is along for the next six years, only God knows!

One thing is sure though, whether by fate, or whatever, the peace process has come full circle! (✓)

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