Urging the GRP to break the stand-off in the peace talks with the MILF
- Urging the GRP to break the stand-off in the peace talks with the
When the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) started talking peace
with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) on
January 7, 1997, the former pushed for a single-point agendum for the
peace negotiations that is "How to solve the `Bangsamoro Problem".
And there was a "gentlemen's agreement" by the negotiating parties
that the MILF would not bring out the issue of independence in the
talks and the government the issue of constitution, sovereignty and
territorial integrity as part of confidence building measures.
It has been a public knowledge that the goal of the Bangsamoro
struggle is to liberate themselves from the clutches of the
oppressive and neo-colonial Philippine regime including foreign
colonialism to ultimately regain full independence. The MILF never
made it an agenda in its peace talks with the GRP to uphold the
said "gentlemen's agreement".
Since 1997, the parties have already signed a number of peace
agreements, joint communiqués and aide-memoirs, among others. In all
those documents, one can nowhere find such words and phrases as
independence, constitutional process or sovereignty and territorial
integrity. There was, however, some reference on international human
rights laws as well as international humanitarian laws.
However, during the 13th Exploratory Talks held in Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia last September 6-7, the peace panels did not come into an
agreement on the strand of territory of the proposed Bangsamoro
Juridical Entity due to the constitutional process invoked by the
Learning from the MNLF experiences, the MILF rejected said offer
asserting "it does not want to repeat the failure of the GRP-MNLF
Final Peace Agreement (FPA) of September 2, 1996". Until now the
government is yet to deliver its commitment on the said Agreement.
On the other hand, the government stands firm in its position that
the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) cannot be
expanded unless it goes through a constitutional process. That, its
hands are tied to the constitution in any agreement it must enter to
with the instruments.
With this situation, we firmly believe that in resolving the
Bangsamoro issue, the GRP and the MILF must exert all efforts to be
creative and resourceful. The government, on one hand, must give
preference to Human Security as the over-all arching goal rather than
the state security and refrain from invoking the constitution as the
final process in reaching out agreement and peace. The human beings
are far greater in value than the state and than the constitution.
People's integrity is more important than territories. The MILF on
the other hand can hold in abeyance some of the territories outside
of the 613 barangays and the ARMM offered by the government in
transitional status to give itself ample time to show the viability
of a Moro-led society. In other words, we would like to see the peace
process continue beyond the signing of any political settlement.
There is the only way and the right way. The old way and the new way
of negotiating employed by the government is not working. Getting out
of the constitutional box and exploring a more creative and human
security-based means is the right way out.
War is always a threat to human security. There are no winners but
We, therefore, urge the Government of the Republic of the Philippines
to have a strong political will to resolve the impending impasse' and
to be more flexible in its position to the current peace talks.
(SGD) Dr. Pendatun Pangadil (SGD)Sammy Maulana
Bangsamoro Coalition for Peace Bangsamoro Civil Society
Prof. Taha Usop (SGD) Bobby
Bangsamoro Peace Advocates Center for Justpeace
(SGD) Alibai Benito
Bangsamoro Women for Peace