Dureza to Congress: Extend transition period ‘for MILF political party to mature’ PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 10 January 2015 13:20

Former government chief peace negotiator Jesus Dureza on Thursday urged Congress to extend the transition period for the Bangsamoro region beyond 2016, to “give the political party of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) time to mature.”

Dureza, also a former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, said that extending the transition period “will allow the MILF to mature politically and be able to prove to all Bangsamoro [constituents] that they are a different breed to the known past political leaders in the area.”

Congress is currently deliberating the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the charter that would govern the new Bangsamoro government.

The creation of the Bangsamoro government is the key feature of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the final peace deal between the government and the MILF.

Once Congress approves the measure and ratified by the constituents in the proposed territory, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will be abolished.

A Bangsamoro Transition Authority will then be created, with the members appointed by the President, until the first set of officials are elected during the 2016 elections.

Last December, the MILF officially launched its political party, the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP), in Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao.

At least 110,000 individuals from the ARMM and other parts of Mindanao registered to become volunteers of the UBJP, which vowed to campaign for the ratification of the BBL and will field candidates for the regional elections in 2016.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad was installed then as UBJP president.

Dureza said Congress has the power to lengthen the transition period beyond 2016 by putting such provision in the approved version of the Bangsamoro law.

An earlier MindaNews report said that Dureza proposed the extension of the transition period for the Bangsamoro until 2019.

He called on the public today to support the extension of the transition period, noting that “politicians listen to what is popular. If this [becomes] a real popular sentiment, politicians will listen.”

“If we don’t give the MILF longer time to mature and reform things in the Bangsamoro, they will not be able to compete in 2016 with the entrenched political leaders,” he said.

Dureza was among those invited to the “Media Roundtable on the Bangsamoro,” which MindaNews organized in partnership with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), Conciliation Resources, European Union, Philippine Information Agency and the Canadian government.

Prof. Miriam Coronel Ferrer and Mohagher Iqbal, chief peace negotiators of the government and the MILF, respectively, also graced the event as key resource persons.

Both appeared optimistic that the BBL will be approved by Congress and ratified by the constituents in the proposed territory this year.

Ferrer said the GPH-MILF peace process has reached this far “mainly due to the trust and confidence as well as the resiliency and creativity shown by each party.”

“The good thing now is we’re starting to reap the benefits produced by the past efforts to solve the [Bangsamoro] problem,” she said.

Iqbal, also the chair of the BTC which drafted the BBL, appealed to Congress to pass “a good BBL.”

“The key for bright future is for Congress to pass a good BBL. Let us not miss this rare opportunity to establish peace in Mindanao, as this opportunity may not come again,” he said.

Iqbal recalled that the negotiation stage was never easy, but because of the goodwill shown by the parties, they were able to forge a final peace agreement.

“[The negotiations were characterized by] giving and taking, and taking and giving. Not all taking, not all giving. Compromises were made, that’s the essence of negotiations,” he said. — BS/MindaNews