People’s Direct Vote: Key To The Snag In The GRP-MILF Peace Talks

February 1, 2008 at 5:20 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment
Moro Islamic Liberation Front chieftain Murad Ebrahim gestures as he speaks to former Libyan Ambassador to Manila Salem Adam in this photo taken during a plenum in Mindanao in 2005. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 01, 2008) – The question of constitutionality or subjecting whatever consensus coming out of Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (GRP-MILF) peace talks to constitutional processes will be addressed by democratic instruments provided by the Constitution itself.

With the provision of a mechanism for submitting proposed law to citizen’s approval, potential conflicts in the evolving consensus points between the GRP and MILF peace panels will be properly addressed. In the case of the GRP-MILF peace negotiation standoff, on the other hand, the process itself needs to be respected and uphold by all parties concerned.
Work of the peace panels, as duly constituted bodies, whose job gained the support and affirmation of many sectors in the local and international community, which reached a certain level of success per appraisal of civil society and business in Mindanao, and which is heading to a signing of a peace agreement that will provide the impetus for lasting peace and development in the Mindanao region, should be pursued to completion.
Due to powerful sectors in the immediate circle of President Gloria Arroyo, however, the GRP-MILF peace talk is suffering an impasse. Newspaper reports point to an effort of the government’s security cluster cabinet raising the issue of subjecting the negotiation to constitutional processes as the leading cause of the deadlock.
Accepting historical basis and precedents in peace negotiations between governments and revolutionary organizations, and living up to the original premises mutually agreed by the panels, that is: MILF not to raise independence in the talks and for government not to subject the negotiation to the constitution, this recent development is totally a one hundred twenty degrees turnaround for the government side.

Peace advocates and non-governmental organizations in Mindanao urged the resumption of the talks and for the government and rebel negotiators to pursue the gains they have so far achieved. The signing of a peace agreement will be followed by a transition period.
It could be three or six years. This phase is joint endeavor of the government, MILF and the international community to implement the action agenda in the singed agreement.
After such transition, the direct vote of the citizens affected by the political experiment will be consulted to decide the fate of the political formula devised and implemented to address the quest for self-determination of the Bangsamoro. People’s direct vote will be undertaken in various forms in several phases of the political experiment.
First referendum will be a plebiscite for BJE territory citizens to decide if they wanted to be part of such a regional government. Second referendum will be as plebiscite which will follow after a charter change process called to effect by Philippine Congress to amend provisions in the Philippine Constitution to accommodate the Bangsamoro regional government.
Third referendum is the conduct of an open, popular election of executives and legislators of the Bangsamoro regional government. These three steps will put a popular and democratic stamp of approval for the new Bangsamoro government.
A fourth referendum, which will come depending on the political and cultural situation prevailing at that time, and if the conditions will merit one, is the conduct of an internationally supervised referendum for the Bangsamoro people to decide on the adoption of an Independent Bangsamoro State. (Candido Aparece, Jr.)

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