Gov’t, MILF to decide on Bangsamoro transition period

Published December 14, 2020, 4:18 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The third-party observer in the Mindanao peace process is letting the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front decide on the proposal to extend the transition period of the Bangsamoro autonomous government but nonetheless said that more time would likely be needed.

“We are of course aware of the ongoing discussion on the extension of the transition period by three years up to 2025,” Third-Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) member Heino Marius said Monday during a virtual briefing by the House Committee on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity.

“To be clear, it would exceed the mandate of the TPMT to come up with an advice on whether such an extension is justified or not; it is up to the two parties to decide what steps are required to make the transition a success and if that requires a longer transition then they need to work with Congress in order to secure the necessary amendment of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL),” he stressed.

A resolution has been  filed in the Bangsamoro parliament asking Congress to extend the transition period of the expanded autonomous government up to the year 2025. The transition window is supposed to lapse in May 2022, as stated under the BOL.

“The remaining challenges tend to show that the time allocated to the transition period is very tight, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has considerably complicated the picture,” said Marius, a retired European Union official.

“In consequence, it has become clear that many elements which form part of the peace process will in all likelihood require time beyond May 2022. This is particularly relevant for the normalization track.”

The normalization track covers the decommissioning of some 40,000 secessionist rebels down South so they may reintegrate themselves in a normal society, particularly the one that the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) seeks to create for local folk.

The BARMM, created by virtue of the BOL, superseded the ARMM. Achieving lasting peace in the southern part of the country is a big deal, since it carries implications on the security of not just the Philippines but arguably Asia as well.

“We note comments by senior leaders of the government and the MILF on such an extension and we note the discussions at the highest level. We in the TPMT of course would like to see the agreement result in lasting peace in Mindanao for the benefit of those living in the Bangsamoro region, and all Filipinos,” Marius said.

At any rate, the TPMT expressed confidence that the peace process would continue to have positive developments in the future.

“Based on what we have observed, we can say that both parties – the government of the Philippines and the MILF –- have demonstrated a very high level of commitment to the peace process and we have no reason to believe that this will not be the case in the years to come,” he said. 

 
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