MANILA— Just one month away from turning 40 years, the Moro rebellion in Mindanao takes a decisive turn for peace with the signing of a preliminary agreement on a new Bangsamoro entity between the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) today.
The preliminary pact provides the "overarching architecture" for the process of addressing the so-called Bangsamoro question.
The agreement would define the powers and structures of a new self-governance entity that will replace and have far greater political and economic powers than the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
It also laid down the principles, processes and mechanisms "that will shape the new relations between the central government and the Bangsamoro."
Although the modalities and timeframe for laying down their arms have yet to be defined, the agreement enshrined the MILF's agreeing to "undertake a graduated program for decommissioning of its forces so that they are put beyond use."
In turn, government also agreed to "a phased and gradual" transfer of law enforcement functions from the Armed Forces to a Bangsamoro police force which is also set to be defined further.
Chief government negotiator Marvic Leonen said the decommissioning of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), the MILF's armed wing, "can keep apace within the period of transition" from ARMM to Bangsamoro. This means within the next two years.
By mid-2016, the first set of elected Bangsamoro leaders, to rule under a ministerial government, is expected to assume powers.
MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said they are confident that the national government will fulfill its commitments especially in the face of a very high international interest on the Mindanao peace process.
In a statement, the MILF said the framework agreement "is a template for real self-rule for the Bangsamoro in Mindanao."
"It is a solid document, (although) short of the ideal option providing for an independent state," it added.
"Of course, it is not a perfect agreement, especially for those who wish for a better one. But for those who have been in the negotiation since 1997, especially negotiators of the MILF, the agreement is the best," the MILF added. Inquirer