BARMM cited for progress in Mindanao peace process

Published December 14, 2020, 2:59 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Third-Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) member Heino Marius has cited the progress made by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) administration in the ongoing peace process in Mindanao.

(Keith Bacongco/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Marius reviewed the developments in the region Monday before the House Committee on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity covering the period March 2019 to October 2020.

“A lot has been achieved during this period. The TPMT is pleased to note that the peace process in Mindanao is fundamentally on track,” Marius told the panel, chaired by Maguindanao Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, during a briefing on Zoom.

“The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region has been established as an autonomous political entity and the foundation for meaningful self-governance in the Bangsamoro and the parliamentary form of government has been put in place and this in itself is a very big achievement. This, in spite of temporary suspension of parliamentary sessions in Cotabato as a result of the coronavirus pandemic,” the TPMT member said.

“As far as the political track of the peace process is concerned, we see positive developments overall. This is significant as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has confronted the BARMM with a double challenge in dealing with the health emergency and the transition at the same time,” added Marius, a retired European Union official.

“In our opinion, the Bangsamoro administration has responded effectively in dealing with this pandemic, distributing relief assistance and providing for testing and isolation facilities and in doing so demonstrating a high degree of commitment,” he added.

This notwithstanding, Marius acknowledged that the pandemic has imposed restrictions on the interim administration, “thus, unavoidably deflecting from tasks related to the peace process.”

He cited developments in the normalization of the peace process, which entails the decommissioning of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels.

“The first step in decommissioning 12,000 MILF combatants have been completed without significant disruption, which is a genuine achievement, and preparations are underway for the remaining two batches. However, there are several elements of normalization which are lagging behind. The third round of decommissioning has not yet commenced and is behind schedule,” he noted.

“We also expect that once the third round is started, it will take much longer to conduct due to sanitary…restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“As a point of principle, the TPMT believes that the political track and the normalization track of the peace process should go hand-in-hand and reinforce each other,” Marius said.