Gov't, MNLF to reconstitute joint body on 1996 peace pact

By Priam Nepomuceno

September 5, 2023, 6:45 pm

MANILA – The government of the Philippines and the Moro National Liberation Front (GPH-MNLF) have agreed to reconstitute its joint peace coordinating committee into the Peace Implementing Committee to carry out the continued implementation of the pact signed in 1996.

In a statement Tuesday, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) said Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. and MNLF vice chairperson Abdulkarim Tan Misuari signed a resolution on Monday to strengthen the composition of the GPH-MNLF joint peace implementing committee.

The two sides agreed to "submit the new composition of their implementing committees which shall be composed of seven members each" as follows:

• Chairperson

• Vice chairperson (who shall come from the four subcommittee chairpersons)

• Four chairpersons of the subcommittees as members

• Two alternate members who shall also serve as members of technical working groups, which shall be created based on need.

"The implementing committee shall have subcommittees to tackle specific concerns on security, socio-economic, confidence building measures, and transitional justice," stated the resolution, which “shall take effect immediately."

Galvez said the agreement is another milestone and came after the 27th year anniversary of the signing of 1996 Final Peace Agreement on Sept. 2, 1996.

"There is a need for us to solidify our engagement to fully implement our commitments in the peace agreement, and to ensure that no one will be left behind in this entire process," he said.

The implementation of the Bangsamoro peace agreements is one of the five-point Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Agenda of the Marcos administration.

"President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has vowed on his unwavering commitment to the Bangsamoro peace process," Galvez said.

He said the reconstitution is needed to strengthen their collaboration under the Marcos administration especially in implementing remaining commitments on the Bangsamoro Development Assistance Fund and Tripartite Implementation Monitoring Committee, as well as a transformation program for MNLF combatants, their families and communities.

The Transformation Program is anchored on Article 20a of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement which states that “there shall be a special socio-economic, cultural and educational program to cater to MNLF forces not absorbed into the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), PNP (Philippine National Police), and the SRSF (Special Regional Security Forces) to prepare them for productive endeavors, provide for educational, technical skills and livelihood training and give them priority for hiring in developmental projects.”

The creation of the Peace Coordinating Committee for the government side was created through a Memorandum from the Executive Secretary issued in November 2019 under the Duterte administration.

Galvez said the government will seek the approval of the President for the reconstitution of the members of the GPH side to the Peace Implementing Committee.

"MNLF is one of the champions of peace. We will do our part to sanctify our agreements," Misuari said.

Bangsamoro Member of Parliament Randolph Parcasio, quoting founding chair Nur Misuari, said the MNLF believes that "time will come when firearms will not be daily activity and a culture – when carrying firearms will be considered a shame."

The MNLF-Misuari Group thanked the Marcos administration for its steadfast commitment to the Bangsamoro peace agreements.

To recall, the Bangsamoro peace process in Mindanao started during the time of the late president Ferdinand Marcos Sr., when he forged an agreement with the MNLF, the 1976 Tripoli Peace Agreement.

The pact became the basis of the succeeding peace agreements in the Bangsamoro such as the 1996 agreement and the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro signed in 2014 between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. (PNA)