Had a great conversation with Sec. Teresita “Ging” Quintos-Deles (Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) over dinner tonight, with other leaders of civil society organizations.
Just before we finished our meal, I asked her: “So, in your assessment, please rate the status of the GPH-MILF workshop on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) at this moment — 1 is failure, 10 is successful.”
Her answer: “With a couple of major items that need the decision of the two principals, I’d say it’s between 7 and 8.”
I’m sleeping tonight with some degree of assurance that the peace in Mindanao is advancing.
THE CONTEXT OF THIS DINNER CONVERSATION
This week, we are witnessing the tail-end of the 17-year peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Right now, both the GPH and the MILF Peace Panels are in the middle of their 10-hour per day workshop for 10 days, August 01-10, rolling their sleeves up together as partners to produce a mutually accepted text of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Last Friday, the Mindanao peace advocacy leaders had a dialogue with Chair Mohagher Iqbal of the MILF Peace Panel between 1900H and 2100H in Davao City. The next day, during their lunch break, the same group met with Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chair of the GPH Peace Panel.
After listening to both parties, I suddenly realized that this tail-end of the peace process is very, very fragile.
In 12 October 2012, we celebrated the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).
In 27 March 2014, we celebrated the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
I thought it will be a smoother ride after these two key documents were signed. Along with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), we followed a clearly laid-out road map for peace in Mindanao.
But in the last two days listening to both peace diplomats whom I truly respect, there are still hard issues we’re facing. One of the key issues is how to operationalize the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro—a politically negotiated agreement which is general in scope, into the Bangsamoro Basic Law—a legislative document which is specific and detailed in scope.
So, the two panels are working as partners for 10 days to deal with these issues.
That’s when I requested my friends for prayers in support to both the GPH and the MILF panels as they journey from the general principles of the peace agreement, to the specific operational details emanating from the same agreement.