MILF peace pact a 'milestone', says CBCP

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 28 2014 11:57 AM | Updated as of Mar 28 2014 07:57 PM

MANILA - The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) lauded the signing of the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In a statement, CBCP President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the signing of the peace pact is a "milestone in the peace process" and marks the end of the long-running insurgency between the government and the Moro insurgency group in Mindanao.

“Like all peace loving Filipinos, we rejoice with our countrymen as we mark a milestone in the peace process with the signing of the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the MILF,” he said.

The CBCP appealed to the Philippine government to ensure the fostering of inclusive peace by engaging “in an honest, open and trusting dialogue” with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the other Muslim secessionist group that has felt largely left out from the MILF-government peace agreement.

The bishops also underscored the need to enhance economic activity in Mindanao, saying that peace could never prosper without efforts to foster human development.

After 17 years of negotiations, the Philippine government and the MILF on Thursday signed a peace agreement that seeks to end more than 30 years of the secessionist movement in Mindanao.

Dubbed as the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace agreement came after negotiations that began during the time of former President Fidel V. Ramos and reached its conclusion under President Aquino.

The CAB has 5 component documents. They are the framework agreement signed in 2012 and separate annexes on revenue generation and wealth sharing, normalization, power sharing, and transitional arrangement.

The FAB outlines the general features of the political settlement, defines the structure and powers of the Bangsamoro government that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and sets the principles processes and mechanisms for a smooth transition until the election of Bangsamoro officials in 2016.

Signed in 2012, the FAB paved the way for the creation of a 15-man transition commission that will draft a proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that will institutionalize and give teeth to the final peace agreement.

Unlike the ARMM which is led by a governor elected at large, the Bangsamoro will have a ministerial government. Voters in a regular Bangsamoro election will elect parties whose members will sit in the Bangsamoro assembly.

The assembly members will then elect from among themselves a chief minister who will serve as the head of the Bangsamoro.

The chief minister will choose the deputy and other ministers that will form the cabinet from the assembly. The assembly will have at least 50 members.

The Bangsamoro will have an autonomous relationship with the national government. The Bangsamoro geographical coverage will be determined by a plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Basic Law in the existing ARMM areas, as well as other areas that want to join so long as 10 percent of the registered voters in those areas file a petition for inclusion.

The BBL will also likewise define the relationship of the Bangsamoro and central governments and existing local government units -- which powers will stay with national, shared with Bangsamoro, or devolved to Bangsamoro exclusively.

The Bangsamoro will have a council of leaders chaired by the chief minister and composed of local government unit officials and a representative of the non-Moro indigenous communities.

The BBL shall also likewise spell out the creation of a judicial system wherein existing civilian courts will continue to exercise jurisdiction over non-Muslims, and Shariah courts will cover Muslims.

The Bangsamoro judicial system will be under the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

The FAB also calls for a gradual laying down of arms by MILF. It likewise spells out the timetable for the crafting of the BBL. With a report from CBCPNews