Big challenge ahead with the signing of Annex on Normalization and Addendum on Bangsamoro Waters

By Ben Cal

MANILA, Jan. 31 (PNA) –- The peace panels of both the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will have to work harder to face a big challenge ahead with the recent signing of the Annex on Normalization and Addendum on the Bangsamoro Waters geared towards ending the decades-old Mindanao armed conflict.

This was stressed by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quinto-Deles during an interview with reporters at the Kanto Restaurant in Ortigas Center, Pasig City over the week.

The Annex on Normalization lays out details the process on the return of the MILF forces to peaceful civilian life. On the other hand, the Addendum on Bangsamoro Waters outlines the delineation and jurisdiction of Bangsamoro waters in southern Philippines.

Deles and Prof. Miriam Coronel Ferrer, chair of the GPH panel, expressed their belief that the MILF is serious in ending the over than four decades of bloody warfare in Mindanao, tagged as a land of promise because of its abundance in natural resources, including food and untapped oil deposits.

The discussion of the normalization issue was very difficult and most emotional as this includes the decommissioning of weapons and put them beyond use.

“As to the combatants that will be covered in the decommissioning process, their number and names will be subject to verification and identification processes that will be undertaken by an Independent Decommissioning Body, Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief negotiator, was quoted as saying following the signing in Kuala Lumpur last werek.

On the other hand, Ferrer explained that decommissioning is only one part of a comprehensive normalization process.

“We have several activities lined up addressing all components: security, socio-economic, transitional justice and social reconciliation, as well as the political and legislative process that will have to be done to complete the whole agreement,” she said, adding that they target to complete everything before the current administration ends its term in 2016,” Ferrer said.

Peace negotiations between the GPH and MILF started in 1997 during the remaining months of then President Fidel V. Ramos.

The Ramos administration initiated the negotiations of the breakaway MILF after the government signed a final peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on Sept. 2, 1996.

This resulted in the signing of the Agreement for General Cessation of Hostilities on July 21, 1997; – Implementing Administrative Guidelines of the GRP-MILF Agreement on the General Cessation of Hostilities on September 12, 1997 and Implementing Operational Guidelines of the GRP-MILF Agreement on the General Cessation of Hostilities on November 14, 1997.

But during the time of then President Joseph Estrada, the volatile Mindanao situation broke out anew after MILF forces attacked government forces.

In response, Estrada declared an all-out war against the MILF and government forces practically captured all 49 MILF camps in Central MindanaoAs a result, the peace talks were suspended for some years.

But during the time of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the talks were revived.

However, as the two peace panels were about sign the controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) in 2008, the Supreme Court declared it as unconstitutional.

Hostilities broke out anew in Central Mindanao until exploratory peace talks were resumed in December 2009.Records at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) show the following agreements were signed from 2001 – 2013.

- Agreement of the General Framework for the Resumption of Peace Talks Between the GRP and the MILF | March 24, 2001

- Agreement on Peace Between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Tripoli Agreement of 2001) | June 22, 2001

- Implementing Guidelines on the Security Aspect of the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement of Peace of 2001 | August 7, 2001

- Manual of Instructions for CCCH and LMTS | October 18, 2001

- Joint Communique Between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (AHJAG) | May 6, 2002

- Implementing Guidelines on the Humanitarian, Rehabilitation and Development Aspects of the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement of Peace 2001 | May 7, 2002

- Interim Implementing Guidelines of the Joint Communique of 06 May 2002 | December 9, 2002

- Joint Statement (Exploratory Talks) | March 28, 2003

- Joint Statement (5th Exploratory Talks) | February 20, 2004

- Statement of Understanding | April 6, 2004

- Joint Statement (6th Exploratory Talks) | December 21, 2004

- Joint Statement (7th Exploratory Talks) | April 20, 2005

- Joint Statement (8th Exploratory Talks) | June 21, 2005

- Joint Statement (9th Exploratory Talks) | September 16, 2005

- Joint Statement (10th Exploratory Talks) | February 7, 2005

- Joint Statement (12th Exploratory Talks) | May 4, 2006

- Joint Statement (Special Meeting of the GRP-MILF Panels) | August 27, 2007

- Joint Statement (Special Meeting of the GRP and MILF Chairmen) | October 24, 2007

- Joint Statement (14th Exploratory Talks) | November 15, 2007

- Joint Statement of the GRP Interagency Technical Working Group (GRP IATWG) and the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) | November 8, 2008

- Civilian Protection Component of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) | October 27, 2009

- Terms of Reference of the International Monitoring Team | December 9, 2009

- Joint Statement (Special Meeting of the GRP and MILF Chairmen) | July 29, 2009

- Framework Agreement on the Formation of the International Contact Group for the GRP-MILF Peace Process | September 15, 2009

- Joint Statement (Special Meeting of the GRP and MILF Chairmen) | December 2, 2009

- Joint Statement; Resumption of the GRP-MILF Peace Negotiations (16th Exploratory Talks) | December 9, 20092010

- 17th Exploratory Talks | January 28, 2010

- Terms of Reference of the Civilian Protection Component (CPC) of the International Monitoring Team | May 5, 2010

- Guidelines for the Implementation of the Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines-Fondation Suisse De Deminage (PCBL-FSD) Project Pursuant to the Joint Statement of the GRP-MILF Peace Panels Dated 15 November 2007 | May 5, 2010

- Joint Statement (18th Exploratory Talks)

- Declaration of Continuity for Peace Negotiation Between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front | June 3, 2010 2011

- Joint Statement (20th Exploratory Talks) | February 10, 2011

- Joint Statement (21st Exploratory Talks) | April 28, 2011

- Statement of GPH Peace Panel Chair Dean Marvic Leonen on the Conclusion of the 22nd Formal Exploratory Talks | August 23, 2011

- Statement of Panel Chair Marvic Leonen (GPH-MILF Informal Executive Meeting) | November 3, 2011

- Joint Statement (23rd Exploratory Talks) | December 7, 2011 2012

- Joint Statement (24th Exploratory Talks) | January 11, 2012

- Joint Statement (25th Exploratory Talks) | Feburary 15, 2012

- Joint Statement (26th Exploratory Talks) | March 21, 2012

- Joint Statement (27th Exploratory Talks) | April 24, 2012

- Decision Points of Principles as of April 2012

- Joint Statement (29th Exploratory Talks) | July 18, 2012

- Joint Statement (30th Exploratory Talks) | August 11, 2012

- Joint Statement (31st Exploratory Talks) | September 8, 2012

- Joint Communique (32nd Exploratory Talks) | October 7, 2012

- Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro | October 15, 2012

- Joint Statement (33rd Formal Exploratory Talks) | November 17, 2012 2013

- Joint Statement (35th Formal Exploratory Talks) | January 25, 2013

- The Third Party Monitoring Team and its Terms of Reference | January 25, 2013

- GPH-MILF Certificate on AHJAG & IMT Renewal | January 25, 2013

- Joint Statement (36th Formal Exploratory Talks) | February 28, 2013

- Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities | February 28, 2013

- The Independent Commission on Policing and its Terms of Reference | February 28, 2013

- Joint Statement of GPH-MILF on the 37th Formal Exploratory Talks | April 11, 2013

- Terms of Reference for Sajahatra Bangsamoro | April 11, 2013

- Guidelines for Mutual Understanding between the CCCH of the GPH and the MILF for Ceasefire-related functions during the May 13, 2013 National and Local Elections | April 22, 2013

- Joint Statement of GPH-MILF peace panels on the 38th Formal Exploratory Talks | July 13, 2013

- Annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing | July 13, 2013

-Joint Statement of the GPH-MILF peace panels on the 39th Formal Exploratory Talks | August 22, 2013

-Joint Statement of the GPH-MILF peace panels on the 40th Formal Exploratory Talks | September 20, 2013

-Joint Statement of the GPH-MILF peace panels on the 41st Formal Exploratory Talks | October 13, 2013

-Joint Statement of the GPH-MILF peace panels on the 42nd Formal Exploratory Talks | December 8, 2013

-Annex on Power Sharing | December 8, 2013. (PNA)