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Moro community leaders, peace advocates and members of peoples organizations held their regular meeting on August 21 at the Moro Asta Madrasa in Tulungatung, Zamboanga City inorder to stand up to the organizational challenges they face in their communities.

Twenty-five Muslim Civil Society Organizations from Southern Mindanao (SouthMin) urged the leaders of the two Moro Fronts, Kadatuan, Ulama (Muslim scholars), including Moro Non-Government Organizations, women and youth to be united towards achieving the common goal of the Bangsamoro for self-determination.

In a caucus early this week, Mindanao lawmakers, Maguindanao 1st District Rep. Bai Sandra Sema was elected Deputy House Speaker for Mindanao.  

Officials of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) see better prospects for the southern peace process now that there is a deputy speaker for Mindanao in the House of Representatives who understands the intricacies of the now 45-year Moro rebellion, said a report by Philstar..

Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol appointed last week Dr. Sailila Abdula, a Maguindanao Rice Breeder and Scientist, as the new Executive Director of PhilRice, the country's rice research agency, replacing Dr. Calixto Protacio whose term has ended.

During Monday’s courtesy call by OPAPP Sec. Jesus Dureza on Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in Putrajaya, the Malaysian leader expressed confidence that peace in Mindanao will be achieved under President Duterte’s administration, according to a report by Philstar on August 18. 

The Regional Human Rights Commission (RHRC) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) held the three-day Training on Human Rights and Report Mechanisms for Grassroots Monitors at EM Manor Hotel and Convention Center in Cotabato City on August 16-18, 2016.

The first meeting between the peace teams of the MILF and Government of the Philippines (GPH) under the Duterte administration in Kuala Lumpur last August 13-14 was by any yardstick a good start. There was no sign of any of the hassles that described the early efforts to bring back the peace process into its formal track. Even the role of Malaysia, as third country facilitator, which was questioned by some quarters had never had any hint of an issue.  In fact, Secretary Jesus Dureza, in his opening statement, was overflowing with praises and good words for Malaysia: “This ceremony today is also a public recognition of the significant contribution of Malaysia to the Bangsamoro peace process. We sincerely thank them and invite them now to become one of our Global Partners for Peace, joining the rest of our international development partners here present.”

Old wounds should not be reopened anymore. They should be allowed to rest because even a slight touch will only rip them open. If the Department of Justice (DOJ) under the previous Aquino administration did not or failed to file criminal charges against those allegedly involved in the killing of 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) is something worthy to ponder on. Why? Lack of time or they have second thought in filing it.

To many people, the issue of burying former strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes ‘Cemetery) is a big issue. We highly respect their views on this; in truth, we share very much many of the reasons for objecting to it. In fact, the Moros suffered the most numbers of killed or victims during the height of Martial Law, in particular those victims of massacres. This is not to include the thousands upon thousands of hectares of Moro and other indigenous peoples ‘ancestral lands in Mindanao given to migrants or outsiders.

Despite the negative view of about half of the population of Filipinos for charter change, the eventuality of success in shifting the system of government from unitary presidential to federal parliamentary or presidential is very bright.

All signs are leading to the resumption of the GPH-MILF peace process. This was secured after Secretary Jesus Dureza and the MILF Central Committee led by Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim met in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao last July 21. Other points decided during the meeting were: Government will reconstitute its peace panel, now dubbed as GPH implementation panel (The MILF panel will still be the same, as has been constituted), and they will meet in early August in Kuala Lumpur; the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would be ahead of the effort to change the form of government from unitary presidential to federal parliamentary; and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) will be reconstituted to come up with a new proposed basic law. However, the issue of whether to enlarge the BTC’s membership from 15 to 17, 19 or 21 is lodged with the two panels to decide once they meet in Kuala Lumpur.

Motives in entering into peace negotiations can be varied, from purely tactical in character such as buying time or the need to be viewed as peace-loving to real problem-solving exercises. At one time or another, the GPH-MILF peace process had assumed all of these characterizations. However, for the most part, it was government which resorted to these dirty tricks notably the paikot (running around) that clearly manifested in many moments during the Arroyo administration. But as time went by, the negotiations gathered momentum and evolved into one of problem-solving engagement. Trust and confidence had been patiently built over the years and they peaked during the Aquino administration. The test of its durability was measured when the Mamasapano tragic incident happened on January 25, 2015 where 44 Special Police Forces, 17 MILF combatants, and five civilians were killed, as well as scores of others wounded. The incident almost exploded into high intensity conflict.

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, May 22, 2016 – Unless it is his way of finding relief from his promises, presumptive President Rodrigo R. Duterte must restrain his cabinet-member designates and top allies in the Congress from making public statements contrary to his campaign and post-campaign commitments like what Davao del Norte representative-elect Pantaleon Alvarez said at the “Headstart” program of ANC (ABS-CBN News Channel) last May 19. He is Duterte’s candidate for House speaker.

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, May 18, 2016 – Will the Bangsamoro be established under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte? MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim sounds optimistic. (MindaNews, May 15, 2016: MILF’s Murad to Duterte: “We will partner with you and your administration”)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, February 11, 2016 – Bangsamoro is stalled. The BBL that would have launched it by June 30, 2016 had been disabled early in the Congress and substituted with the BLBAR. But, BLBAR had failed to take off when the Congress adjourned last February 5. Whether Bangsamoro can be relaunched during the next administration hinges on how Moro-friendly would be the next President and the non-Moro members of the 17th Congress.

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, January 25, 2016 – “A-DL” is Anti-Dynasty Law; “FOIL” is Freedom of Information Law. BBL is the original Draft Bangsamoro Basic Law. All three are still bills marooned in the 16th Congress. As BBL has been debased and pining for redemption and passage, A-DL and FOIL, long resigned to their fate, are comforting it: “Hindi ka nag-iisa” (You are not alone.)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, January 14, 2016 – No matter how unacceptable, let it be stated simply: The Bangsamor is banished indefinitely. This is seen through prevailing circumstances that look irreversible. This is squarely facing the fact. Let’s hope, though, that by a miraculous stroke of fate, the statement is proven wrong.

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, December 19, 2015 – The Philippine Star (December 16, 2015: House drops opt-in provision from BBL) reported the House of Representatives “has decided to delete the controversial opt-in provision from the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in a move to lessen opposition to the measure.” 

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Negotiation is a part of man's everyday life

Today is a very auspicious day for all of us.  This day we formally launch the Implementing Peace Panels of the GPH and MILF to signal that the peace process is back on the formal track and the Parties are ready as ever to proceed with vigour, commitment, and determination. They are also ready to work as partners both in their supervisory responsibilities over the various mechanisms or infrastructures of the peace process as well as in the implementation of their bilateral or respective obligations set forth in signed agreements. I will deal with them in more details later in this statement.

We, the members of the Bangsamoro Justice-Seekers for Martial Law Massacre Victims, a community of victims, survivors, and descendants of the horrendous bloody massacres committed in Mindanao during the Martial Law administration of the President Ferdinand Marcos make known our unequivocal position.