Third-Party Monitoring Team issues its second annual public report PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 14 February 2015 11:55

The Third-Party Monitoring Team (TPMT), formally established in 2013 as part of the peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, on Friday issued its second annual public report.

TPMT Chair Alistair MacDonald said “the recent tragic events at Mamasapano have underlined yet again the human costs of conflict, and the TPMT joins in expressing their condolences to the families of all the victims. Pending the results of the various investigations  now being carried out, it would be premature to comment substantively on these events. But it will be essential to protect the future while providing just remedies for the past – and that  future can only prosper in the context of a widespread and lasting peace.”

MacDonald added that while public attention was necessarily focused on the recent tragedy, it  was nevertheless important not to overlook the substantial progress which had been achieved during 2014 in different dimensions of the peace process. “Ending decades of violent conflict can not be accomplished overnight,” he said, “and the painstaking efforts of all those working for peace deserve to be acknowledged.” MacDonald therefore hoped that this second  annual report of the TPMT would serve to recall the distance that had already been travelled,  while acknowledging the challenges that still lay ahead.

In its report released Friday, the TPMT noted that 2014 had seen major progress in the implementation of the peace agreements – notably including the completion of the Normalisation Annex in January, the historic signature of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in March, the submission of the draft BBL to Congress in September, and the launching immediately thereafter of the extensive Congressional consultations and deliberations on the BBL.

In addition, work continued on all the other dimensions of the agreements, including :

* initial progress in the normalisation track, setting up three major normalisation bodies  (JNC, TJRC, IDB), and preparing for the first ceremonial turnover of crew-served weapons and high-powered firearms by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s BIAF to the Independent Decommissioning Body

* continued work on socio-economic development, including through the Sajahatra Bangsamoro programme as well as the preparation of a detailed Bangsamoro Development Plan

* preparing for the transition from ARMM to Bangsamoro Transition Authority, with the establishment of a Coordinating Committee for the Transition

Progress was not as rapid as either Party would have wished, and delays were encountered in  a number of areas – for example in completing the drafting of the BBL, in some of the practical aspects of normalisation, or in the implementation of socio-economic programmes.

Looking forward, multiple challenges had already existed (even before the tragic events at Mamasapano)

* completing deliberations on the BBL in a timely manner, in a form compliant with the  agreements and not subject to major challenges in the Supreme Court

* preparing for the successful conduct of the plebiscite to ratify the BBL and determine the  geographic scope of the Bangsamoro

* arranging for a smooth transition from ARMM to BTA, including addressing the  challenges arising from a much shorter-than-expected transition period

* ensuring the necessary support for socio-economic development

* and achieving the greatest possible sense of inclusivity, among all the inhabitants of the future Bangsamoro

Now, since 25 January, many of these pre-existing challenges will become even more acute.  Emotions run high, and confidence in the process has taken a knock. But while the challenges are great, the prizes to be gained are even greater – creating a sustainable peace, allowing the  region to achieve its full potential and to contribute more effectively to the prosperity and  security of the nation as a whole.

And the best guarantees of success are the continuing commitment to peace of both Parties, at  the highest level, the massive engagement of Congress and the public in deliberating on the  BBL, and the underlying hopes of the people of Mindanao that their children should be ableto grow and prosper in a peaceful and just society.

Background

The independent Third-Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) was set up by the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to monitor the implementation of the  GPH-MILF peace agreement, as provided for in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed on 15 October 2012.

The TMPT has five members (two nominated by the GPH, two by the MILF, and a jointly- nominated Chair) : Huseyin Oruç (IHH, Turkey), Karen Tañada (Gaston Z Ortigas Peace Institute, Philippines), Rahib Kudto (UNYPAD, Philippines), Steven Rood (The Asia Foundation, USA), and Alistair MacDonald (Chair, former EU Ambassador to the Philippines, now retired).

The TPMT is tasked with monitoring, reviewing and assessing the implementation of all  signed agreements between the Parties, primarily the FAB and its Annexes. In particular, its  basic functions are to :

* monitor and evaluate the implementation of all agreements;

* review and assess the progress of the implementation of commitments by both Parties  under the Agreements (submitting comprehensive periodic reports and updates to both  Parties for their appropriate action);

* and to communicate to the public the progress and developments in the implementation of  the Agreements of the Parties.

The TPMT was launched in July of 2013, on the basis of Terms of Reference agreed by the Parties in January 2013. The TPMT has so far convened nine times in the Philippines, on a  roughly two-monthly basis, and will continue its work through until the completion of the Exit  Document foreseen in the FAB.

The present Public Report is the second such report issued by the TPMT (the first having been issued in February 2014).