Ochoa’s direct engagement in GPH, MILF peace deal hailed PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 17 August 2014 15:19

Public officials are convinced the direct involvement now of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa in the peace overture between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will hasten the completion of the draft Basic Bangsamoro Law (BBL).

Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on Saturday said Ochoa’s participation, in the GPH-MILF peace efforts, is a manifestation of President Benigno Aquino III’s commitment to find lasting, negotiated solution to the decades-old Moro issue.

“That is a very clear manifestation of Malacañang’s direct involvement now in the efforts of the government and the MILF to craft a draft BBL that is acceptable to both sides,” Hataman said.

The government and MILF peace panels have been trying to reconcile for two months now each other’s positions on many sensitive provisions of the draft BBL.

The proposed law is the enabling measure needed in replacing the ARMM with a politically and administratively empowered new Bangsamoro self-governing entity.

Ochoa and the MILF’s chief negotiator, Muhaquer Iqbal, who is also presiding chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, discussed vital issues regarding the BBL in a series of meetings from August 13 to 15 in Davao City.

Ochoa and Iqbal had reportedly arrived at vital “resolutions,” which they agreed to include in the draft BBL.

Presidential Adviser Teresita Quintos-Deles had said, in a statement emailed Saturday by the Mindanao press bureau of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, that the draft BBL might possibly be submitted to Malacañang within the next few days.

The Office of the President, shall, in turn, endorse the draft BBL to Congress for enactment into law, and, subsequently, be ratified via a plebiscite in the proposed Bangsamoro core territory.

Iqbal and his government counterpart, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, separately announced last week, over Catholic station dxMS in Cotabato City, that the GPH and MILF panels are to meet again, from August 18 to 28, to resolve the remaining contentious provisions of the draft BBL.

For local officials in Central Mindanao, the latest statement of Deles was a clear indication Ochoa and Iqbal had a breakthrough in their efforts to resolve the government and MILF’s misunderstandings on the contents of the draft BBL.

“We fully support President Aquino’s tasking of Executive Secretary Ochoa to help in the finalization of the draft BBL,” said Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu.

Mangudadatu, who has jurisdiction over 36 towns that are all bastions of the MILF, is the only one, from among ARMM’s five provincial governors, who has been vocal about his support to the GPH-MILF peace initiative.

“Skeptics and cynics have no more reason now to doubt President Aquino’s sincerity in dealing with the MILF now that his very own executive secretary is involved in the process of making the draft BBL become acceptable to both sides,” said Mangudadatu, who chairs the inter-agency Maguindanao provincial peace and order council.

Iqbal and Ochoa had, in fact, signed a joint statement, while in Davao City, stating that they have “concluded discussions” on various issues regarding the draft BBL.

Hataman reiterated anew his readiness to vacate his post and help facilitate a smooth transition from the ARMM to the new Bangsamoro political entity once the BBL is enacted into law.

“We shall turn over to the government and MILF all fiscal and property assets of the ARMM government and the personnel of all line agencies and support offices under the Office of the Regional Governor once that draft BBL becomes a law,” Hataman said.

Mangudadatu said one of his major concerns now is the continuing grant of scholarships to qualified Moro, Christian and lumad students and the implementation of socio-economic interventions, benefiting local peasants, to hasten the restoration of normalcy in MILF enclaves.

“These efforts will, in effect, strengthen the peace we now enjoy in the province as a result of the on-going government-MILF peace endeavor,” Mangudadatu said.