Peace Panels to exist until Exit Agreement

The peace panels, among other mechanisms of the GPH-MILF peace process, will continue to stay until the Exit Agreement is signed. This Agreement will only be signed, signalling that negotiations are over and terminated, after the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT), the GPH and MILF Peace Panels, and the third party facilitator shall have validated and agreed that both Parties have implemented all agreements; meaning, both have complied with all their bilateral or unilateral obligations.

This is to correct impression that there is no more need for the peace panels, as well as the other mechanisms, because the peace process is already on the implementation stage.  This is not only a misconception but altogether a misreading of the agreements of the Parties.

Seriously, until the Exit Agreement is signed, the two peace panels will continue to steer the direction of the peace process and supervise the works and responsibilities of the various mechanisms. If necessary they will also meet to thresh out and decide on new issues including unresolved ones coming from the various bodies especially related to the normalization process.

In concrete terms, if for instance, a serious breach of the ceasefire agreement cannot be resolved in the level of the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), where do they elevate the problem? Naturally, they will have to elevate it to the two peace panels for resolution. Similarly, if the two peace panels cannot resolve the same issue, where do they bring the matter? The answer is, they would have to meet under third party facilitation. This situation can be true to all the other mechanisms including those with international participation or players.

Even the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which is a unilateral responsibility of government, its accountability will still be engaged or asserted through its peace panel. The MILF, which is a revolutionary organization, cannot participate directly in the normal legal process of government, hence, the creation of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). The BTC was constituted mainly through an executive order signed by the President. This is the personality and authority carried by those MILF leaders who engaged Congress and other government entities.

Of course, the informal track or what we usually referred to as back-channeling is part of the dynamics of peace-making. In fact, in many instances, they are very effective in breaking impasses or disagreements, but in no way this will replace the formal track. In back-channeling there is no official accountability. Only in the formal track that accountability of the parties are clear and established, because they are written and signed by the parties.

It is on this established protocol of the GPH-MILF peace process that we wish for the early composition of the GPH Peace Panel under the incoming Duterte administration.