CAGAYAN DE ORO City, Jan. 18, 2011â€”The joint legal panel of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has drafted an amendatory bill for Republic Act (RA) 9054, which provides for the expansion of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Former MNLF chairman Nur Misuari and Justice Undersecretary Leah Armamento, agreed on modifications to make the law creating the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) more reflective of the sentiments of the Moro people.
The legal team resolved majority of the 32 issues that surfaced, with only three items in which both sides have not reached common ground.
These three contentious items are issues regarding area of autonomy; sharing of revenues between central government and regional government in strategic minerals; and transitional mechanism.
The panelâ€™s draft bill and report were initialed by the joint secretariat last Saturday at the Indonesian Embassy, and will be presented in the Fourth Tripartite Meeting.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita â€œGingâ€ Quintos-Deles lauded the legal panel for sharing their â€œeffort and expertiseâ€ for â€œa more satisfactory implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.â€
â€œAlmost 22 months to date from the Third Tripartite Meeting, we are glad that the Legal Panel â€“ jointly led by Professor Nur Misuari and Undersecretary of Justice Leah Armamento â€“ has found such common grounds and transformed to legal form the common proposals and common grounds,â€ she said.
Maguindanao Rep. (First District) Bai Sandra Sema expressed happiness with this breakthrough.
Sema, a member of the MNLF, also said that she will support the draft bill in the Lower House.
The GPH-MNLF legal panel was formed based on the agreement during the Third Tripartite Meeting among the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), GPH and MNLF on March 13, 2009. The panel has been tasked to transform the common proposals of the two parties into legal form and arrive at common grounds on the issues for further study.
The OIC is composed of more than 50 Muslim states, including wealthy petroleum-exporting states in the Middle East and Africa. It helped broker the September 2, 1996 GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement.
Indonesia chairs the OICâ€™s Peace Committee for Southern Philippines (PCSP), which is handling the tripartite review of the peace pact.
Deles expressed her gratitude to the OIC, particularly the Peace Committee on Southern Philippines and its member-states, for their support to this endeavor.
â€œSuch concern, attention and effort definitely and concretely contribute to the establishment and nourishment of an enabling environment for the sustained peace and development in Southern Philippines,â€ she said.
Deles also thanked the Indonesian Embassy in Manila for hosting the meetings of the legal panel.
The legal panel held series of meetings to review proposed modifications to RA 9054, and discuss other items for further study, such as the implementation of the agreement to set up the Bangsamoro Development Assistance Fund (BDAF); and the tripartite monitoring of the implementation of the peace pact.
In 2009, Misuari hailed the formation of the joint legal panel as the â€œfinal straw that would break the back of the cycle of war, the cycle of repression.”
Misuari also said that unless what have been agreed upon are implemented, all the agreements are just â€œuseless.â€ (Bong D. Fabe)