GPH, MILF panels reaffirm commitment to fully implement CAB

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Members of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Implementing Panels reaffirmed their commitment to fully implement the five-year-old Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and other signed peace pacts in a special meeting here Monday (April 29).

In a joint statement issued after their one-day meeting at the Malaysian capital, the parties said they will focus their efforts on working on the implementation of the normalization track of the CAB, which is largely focused on the transformation of MILF combatants, their families, and communities.

The Parties affirm their full commitment to work on normalization for the full implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and all GPH-MILF peace agreements, the joint statement read.

The parties vowed to intensify their efforts on the work for the normalization for the succeeding years until the Exit Agreement.

The joint statement was signed by Gloria J. Mercado, the new chair of the Philippine government Implementing Panel, who is also an Undersecretary of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP); Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF Implementing Panel; and Dato' Kamarudin bin Mustafa, the Malaysian facilitator.

During the meeting, the parties inked several documents to further strengthen and sustain the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process.

The documents included the revised Terms of Reference (TOR) of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) in consonance with the implementation of the Normalization Program and the compilation of all signed agreements between the GPH and MILF Implementing Panels from August 2016 to the present.

The two parties also signed a certification renewing the mandate of the IMT until March 2020 in recognition of the important role of the IMT.

The parties likewise agreed to form a technical working group to discuss the operational guidelines of the revised TOR of the IMT. The Civilian Protection Component (CPC) shall now be under the guidance and supervision of the Implementing Panels, the statement said, adding the mandate of the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) was also extended until March 2020.

For their part, the MILF Implementing Panel will reach out to other moderate Moro armed groups in Mindanao to bring them to the peace table and to contribute to the overall effort to preserve the gains of peace during this transition period.

Moreover, both sides emphasized the importance of the transitional justice and reconciliation (TJR) aspect of the normalization process.

The parties also expressed their gratitude to the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC).

The Parties commit to pursue transitional justice and reconciliation related steps for durable peace in the Bangsamoro. To this end, the Parties invoke its advisory capacity to produce a roadmap document to operationalize the TJR component of Normalization, the statement said.

TJR is one of the key components of the Normalization Track of the CAB, which also include the security aspect, socio-economic development program and confidence-building measures.

In addition, both sides also welcomed the timely submission of the Transition Plan drafted by the Coordination Team for the Transition to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (CT4T) for due consideration of the Chief Minister of the BTA.

The parties also paid tribute to the late Bangsamoro Transition Commission Chair Gazhali Jaafar and former EU Ambassador to the Philippines Alistair MacDonald, who formerly headed the Third-Party Monitoring Team (TPMT).

The Kuala Lumpur meeting of the Joint Implementing Panels is the first following the successful ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law and the establishment of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority in the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr., who was present at the opening of the meeting, highlighted the achievements made in the Bangsamoro peace process under the leadership of Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

I would like to express my extreme happiness at the significant progress we have achieved in implementing the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro or the CAB that was signed between the Government of the Philippines and the MILF five years ago, Galvez said.

The Presidential Peace Adviser said the national government under the Duterte administration is seriously committed to the full implementation of the Bangsamoro peace agreements.

As what President Rodrigo Roa Duterte had vowed in his inaugural speech in July 2016, his administration is seriously committed to carry-out the full implementation of the Bangsamoro peace agreement until the Exit Agreement on 2022 which is also the year the term of office of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte officially ends, Galvez said in his opening remarks.

By and large, we believe that it was through President Duterte's strong leadership and sheer political will that the Bangsamoro peace process has moved forward at such an unprecedented pace, he added.

Galvez also lauded the continuing support of the international community, particularly Malaysia, in the Bangsamoro peace process.

He said the Philippine government will never forget the pioneering peace facilitation of Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and the Malaysian government in bringing the MILF back to the negotiating table after the 2001's all-out war in Mindanao.

"On behalf of the Philippine government, I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the Malaysian Government for its unequivocal support and commitment in facilitating the GPH-MILF peace negotiations and for playing a key role in monitoring the implementation of the ceasefire agreement on the ground," he said.

The meeting was attended by the new members of the Government Peace Implementing Panel. Aside from Mercado who was appointed as the new panel chair, other new members include OPAPP Director and Chief-of-Staff David B. Diciano, OPAPP Assistant Secretary Dickson P. Hermoso, OPAPP Assistant Secretary Ma. Cecilia D. Papa, and Ariel Hernandez.

Atty. Nabil A. Tan, a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) and former Chair of the Government Peace Implementing Panel, also attended the special meeting. (PR)

Source: Philippines News Agency