April 24, 2014     Philippines
Support alternative journalism. Donate to Bulatlat.com.

October 22, 2012
Groups question sincerity of Aquino gov’t in announcing agreement with MILF

By MARYA SALAMAT
Bulatlat.com

Main Story: A signed ‘framework agreement doesn’t mean fight is over’

MANILA – The supporters and fighters of the Bangsamoro people may have the trust and allegiance of progressive peoples’ organizations in the Philippines, but apparently, not the Aquino government. From these groups’ study of the recently signed framework agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Government of the Philippines (GPH), more questions are raised than answered over the plight of the Moro people and their quest for self-determination. Worse, they expressed fears that it will not just be the Moro people who may be further disadvantaged under the agreement, but the rest of the Filipino people, too.

The MILF and the GPH signed on Oct 16 a framework agreement which technically states what and how the two parties would agree about in future accords.

Aside from it missing three key issues which are to be included as annexes, “The Framework Agreement is NOT yet the final GPH-MILF Peace Agreement. It is a preliminary Agreement that sets the principles, concepts and direction of the still to be crafted final GPH-MILF Peace Agreement,” said the Moro-Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA) in a statement.

The MCPA took issue with how the Aquino administration’s “public relations-oriented statements tend to create the illusion that a centuries-old conflict is finally resolved.” Tony Liongson, MCPA spokesman, said the government is “creating the illusion and concocting false hopes that peace is finally achieved.” The MCPA is a national interfaith network of Muslim and Christian religious leaders, Moro people’s organizations and civil libertarians advocating the collective rights and aspiration of the Moro people for self-determination.

The signing of framework agreement “is indeed welcome news after two decades of talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who have gone through tortuous negotiations and a failed signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) in 2008,” Felixberto Calang, bishop and chairman of Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao (InPeace), said in another statement. But he asked a question being raised by many in Mindanao: Does that necessarily mean that peace is now at hand for the Moro people?

A double-edged sword tilted more against the Moro people?

The current draft contains certain dangers, noted Luis G. Jalandoni, chairman of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ negotiating panel, in an interview with Davao Today. Jalandoni pointed to “a lot of dependence on the GPH executive and legislative branches.” He cited as example the draft Bangsa Moro Basic Law, which, upon submission by the Transition Commission, needs to be certified as an urgent bill by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. Add to that, the part in the agreement saying “There shall be created a Transition Commission through an Executive Order and supported by Congressional Resolutions.”

Jalandoni added that “while there is no express requirement of adhering to GPH Constitutional and Legal Processes (as in the Tripoli Agreement of 1976) there are, in essence, such requirements, and GPH Panel Head Prof. Marvic Leonen has declared that everything in the Framework Agreement must be in accord with the GPH constitution and legal processes.”

The Framework Agreement seems to have also put much stress on “decommissioning.” This is a process in which an armed rebel group, in this case the MILF, would be subsequently disarmed. Jalandoni quoted a portion of the Framework Agreement on normalization, under No. 5, which states: “The MILF shall undertake a graduated program for decommissioning of its forces so that they are put beyond use.”

Also, in No. 7 of the same section, “… until the full decommissioning of the MILF forces.” And in No. 9 of the same section, “The details of the normalization process and timetables for decommissioning shall be in an Annex on Normalization and shall form part of this Agreement.”

Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator for the MILF, told Bulatlat.com that this is one of the three contentious points they and the GPH panel will have to finish before yearend.
Even financially, Jalandoni noted that it is the GPH who plays the key role based on the signed Framework Agreement. In “VII Transition and Implementation,” No. 6 states: “The GPH shall allocate funds and provide other resources for its (Transition Commission) effective operation.”

Jalandoni said it remains to be seen how the Bangsamoro, the new autonomous political entity will be formed. But for now, it seems “The present GPH-MILF Framework Agreement is heavily tilted towards the GPH and lessens the independence and autonomy of the Bangsamoro.”

Aquino’s Trojan horse to bring in charter change?

On top of criticizing the Aquino government for misrepresenting the framework agreement as if it is already the final peace accord between the MILF and the GPH, “creating an illusion that the centuries-old conflict is finally resolved,” various groups warned against the threats it pose against the Moro and other people of Mindanao and Filipinos in general.

Connie Bragas-Regalado, president of Migrante Partylist, warned about the requisite of a charter change for the accord to take effect. “We understand that the Bangsamoro framework agreement has to be in accordance with the Philippine Constitution and its legal processes. This entails charter change that may be exploited by the present administration for the further plunder of our natural and human resources by foreign investors and companies, especially in the Mindanao region,” she said in a statement.

Migrante said that charter change at this time is “too treacherous especially now that the Aquino administration seems hell-bent on disregarding national sovereignty and patrimony in the form of the re-entry of US and other foreign troops in the country and his flagship program of PPP (public-private partnership).”

The Aquino administration has welcomed the American government’s military pivot toward the Asia-Pacific starting this year. It means increased US military presence in the region, including the Philippines. In Mindanao, the US military is reputed to have an unacknowledged military base. Hundreds of its special troops are also consistently in the area, and frequently reported (though subsequently denied) to have been involved in various combat operations there.

According to Migrante, just and lasting peace in the Mindanao region and in the country can only be achieved if the GPH genuinely addresses the root causes of poverty, landlessness, unemployment and lack of social services in the country. These, the migrants group said, are the root causes and main reasons “why our countrymen are being forced to migrate abroad, or in this context, take up arms to express discontent against the prevailing status quo.” A large portion of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and OFW families hail from Mindanao.

For the labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), the framework agreement is the opposite of what Aquino is claiming it to be. “It is not the fulfillment of the Moro people’s aspirations for self-determination. It does little to change the fundamental situation of the Bangsamoro,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

“If this pact is not immediately followed up with agreements that will truly uphold the Moro people’s right to self-determination, the conditions that sustain the Moro people’s resistance will persist,” he warned.

Cover up to worsening plunder?

“The government’s statements following the announcement of the agreement point to the worsening of the plunder of Mindanao’s resources by foreign multinationals – which will surely be backed up by heightening militarization of the island,” Labog said. Suara Bangsamoro told Bulatlat.com that military deployment has been intensifying in some parts of Mindanao including the areas likely to be part of Bangsamoro entity. Last week, a family opposed to large-scale mining, one of Aquino’s priorities, was massacred by an armed group formed by the military.

The KMU said Aquino is hyping the agreement in order to present “good news” to the public and to cover up for the worsening condition of the Filipino workers and people. In fact, Aquino’s peace rhetoric is “already being betrayed by the Aquino government’s attacks on civil liberties with the passage of the Cybercrime Law and the unabated killing of indigenous peoples, environmentalists, and activists,” said Felixberto Calang, bishop and chairman of InPeace.

“Our land, resources and life are also endangered by the construction of big hydro-electric dams, energy-related projects and the expansion of agro-industrial plantations,” many of which are located in Mindanao, said Kakay Tolentino, secretary general of Katribu Partylist.

Recently, one of the biggest palm oil companies in the world hailed the Framework Agreement and bared its intention to invest in Mindanao. But also recently, Gilbert Paborada, a Higaonon leader, was murdered by elements of a para-military group attached to the Philippine government armed forces. The victim was opposed to the A. Brown Company Palm Oil plantation in Opol, Misamis Oriental.

In this light, the interfaith network with the MCPA called on the Filipino and Moro people to be vigilant and discern the real status and progress of the GPH-MILF peace negotiations. As peace advocates, InPeace expressed hope “that the ‘Bangsamoro’ as political entity and as identity, struggle, and destiny, truly reflects the essence of the Moro nation and not be reduced into a play on words.” (http://bulatlat.com)

ARTICLE TOOLS
Printer-Friendly Version Printer-Friendly Version

TAGS
, ,
CATEGORIES
* Latest PostsnameIndigenous PeoplesnameOFWs & MigrationnameOther StoriesnameRegions
REPRINT
Feel free to reprint, repost or republish this material. (Read Bulatlat's syndication policy.)

2 thoughts on “Groups question sincerity of Aquino gov’t in announcing agreement with MILF

  1. Pingback: Philippines news: A signed ‘framework agreement doesn’t mean fight is over’ | Pinas news library

  2. Pingback: A signed ‘framework agreement doesn’t mean fight is over’ - Bulatlat

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

BROWSE BY SECTION OR SUBJECT ››

Politics
Economy
Human Rights
OFWs & Migration
Agrarian Reform
Labor & Employment
Urban Poor
Environment
Education
Youth
Indigenous Peoples

Women & Children
Health
Media
Culture
Poetry
Analysis & Opinion
Regions
International
Democratic Space
Press Releases
Downloads

ON THE FRINGES (BULATLAT STAFF BLOG) ››