Peace Networks Urge GPH and MILF : Install Transition Mechanism, Suspend ARMM Elections

The Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW), the broadest civil society peace network in Mindanao with solidarity groups in Manila and Visayas, is calling for the suspension of the 2013 elections of regional posts in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) but called for the continuation of the same for provincial and local positions. The MPW proposal on Transition Mechanisms which also called for the creation of a Transitional Commission to govern the region was submitted to both negotiating panels of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace talks. The document, a product of consensus-building process from among its constituents , is entitled “Civil Society Consensus Points : To Move the GPH-MILF Peace Process Forward”.

This is a first of a series of proposals MPW intends to send to the peace panels and other key stakeholders as the peace talks is narrowing its agenda on several “negotiated consensus points”. It was given to both panels last July 7, 2012, during the “Bangsamoro Leaders’ Assembly” organized by the MILF and held at the Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat. The event was also attended by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the GPH Negotiating Panel, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), the International Monitoring Team (IMT), governors and other foreign dignitaries from Libya and Indonesia.

MPW, which has been calling for a negotiated political settlement of the armed conflict in Mindanao for more than eight years with “citizen participation” as its clarion call. It is currently mobilizing a broader multi-stakeholder civil society movement that will submit perspectives and concrete proposals to the negotiating panels of the GPH-MILF amity talks.

Taking off from the GPH-MILF Decision Points on Principles as of April 2012 signed as a joint statement during the 27th Exploratory Talks in Malaysia, MPW articulated its proposal from this “significant breakthrough” in the peace process. The document is framed from a set of Guiding Principles of MPW for the GPH-MILF Peace Talks. These are the principles on right to self-determination, inclusivity, democratic participation, transparency, dialogue, subsidiarity, mutual respect, sustainability and social justice.

In the document, MPW specifically proposes for the “GPH and the MILF peace panels to immediately institutionalize a mechanism that will allow the suspension of the ARMM elections in 2013 and consequently create a transition government in accordance with their mutual agreement to establish a ‘new autonomous political entity’ in 2016”. Meaning, local elections will proceed but the regional governance mechanism is dissolved and replaced later by a Transition Commission (TRANSCOM) whose powers will be granted by Congress. MPW perceives this proposal as offering a better scenario that presents a better option for acceptability by the key peace actors.

Meanwhile, the MPW is awaiting the responses of both negotiating panels, as the “network of peace networks” continues to refer this proposal to other civil society groups in Visayas and Luzon in the hope of drum-beating and developing a groundswell towards active citizenship and involvement of people in policy development on questions of peace in Mindanao. Waging Peace Philippines , a nation-wide peace movement, expressed general support to the proposal. Such growing affirmative support from other peace groups and civil society on this contributes in shaping a public agenda.

MPW’s proposal dwell on three key messages : on the transition commission, third party monitoring and a national peace policy.
A-three year transition period from 2013-2016 is the proposed transitory phase for the establishment of the “new autonomous political entity” as agreed upon by both GPH and MILF negotiating panels.

Moreover, a Transition Commission (TRANSCOM), led by the MILF, serves as the legal authority and transitory governance mechanism at the regional level. It will be governed by two (2) parallel interim councils run separately by GPH and the other structure, by the MILF. Both shall be multi-stakeholder and inclusive. It is also suggested that the TRANSCOM be supported by the national government technically and resource-wise, in order to capacitate the Bangsamoro and strengthen their institutions during the transition period towards the full realization of genuine autonomy.

As a concrete proposal on third party monitoring mechanism, the MPW proposed that an independent body be created to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the interim agreements and the comprehensive peace compact between the GPH and MILF. The body envisioned to be is composed of local and international guarantors, including NGOs and representatives from the United Nations (UN) and the ASEAN Institute of Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR).

The proposal also sought policy support be extended by the Office of the President and Congress to legalize the interim agreements between the GPH and MILF by way of law or Executive Order and specifically enacting a law on a National Peace Policy to guarantee that succeeding administrations will honor and fully implement all peace agreements.

For further information, call and email queries to the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), Lead Secretariat of MPW – (082)(2992052) telefax, www.mindanaopeaceweavers.org.

Mindanao PeaceWeavers Convenors :
Agong Peace Network (AGONG)
Bisayang Daku Alang sa Kalinaw (Genuine Visayans for Peace – BISDAK)
Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS)
Inter-religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP)
Mindanao Peace Advocates Conference (MPAC)
Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC)
Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement (MPPM)
Mindanao Solidarity Network (MSN)
Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), Lead Secretariat
Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Co-Secretariat
Saligan Mindanaw (Saligan), Co-Secretariat

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