GRP-MNLF joint panel drafts bill to amend ARMM law PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 25 January 2011 16:27

The joint panel of the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has successfully drafted an amendatory bill for Republic Act (RA) 9054 which provides for the expansion of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

In a statement, the office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) said the drafted bill, which was jointly authored by MNLF chairman Nur Misuari, and Justice Undersecretary Leah Armamento, is needed to “make the ARMM law more reflective of the Moro sentiments.”

It said both parties addressed “majority of the 32 issues that surfaced, with only three items in which both sides have not reached common ground.”

“These include issues regarding area of autonomy; sharing of revenues between central government and regional government in strategic minerals; and transitional mechanism,” the report read, adding that the bill was were initialed by the joint secretariat last January 15 at the Indonesian Embassy. It will be presented in the Fourth Tripartite Meeting.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles said the bill gives a “more satisfactory implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.”

“Almost 22 months todate from the Third Tripartite Meeting, we are glad that the Legal Panel – jointly led by Professor Nur Misuari and Undersecretary of Justice Leah Armamento – has found such common grounds and transformed to legal form the common proposals and common grounds,” she said.

Deles cited the effort of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), particularly the Peace Committee on Southern Philippines and its member-states, for their support to this endeavor. 
“Such concern, attention and effort definitely and concretely contribute to the establishment and nourishment of an enabling environment for the sustained peace and development in Southern Philippines,” she said.

OPAPP said the joint legal panel was formed based on the agreement during the Third Tripartite Meeting among the OIC, Philippine government and MNLF on March 13, last year. The panel has been tasked to transform the common proposals of the two parties into legal form and arrive at common grounds on the issues for further study.

“The legal panel held a series of meetings to review proposed modifications to RA 9054, and discuss other items for further study, such as the implementation of the agreement to set up the Bangsamoro Development Assistance Fund, and the tripartite monitoring of the implementation of the peace pact,” the report said.

The Philippine government and MNF entered into a peace deal in 1996 in hope to end the decades-old Moro conflict in Mindanao, and to give the Mindanao’s Muslim populace political power to govern themselves with little interference from the national government.

But while more than 10 years have passed since the peace agreement was signed, majority of the provisions have not been fully fulfilled. The autonomous Muslim region, which is partly created under the peace deal, remained in deep poverty amid the presence of armed men and bandits.

Civil society groups lauded the new development in the southern peace process.
“While the criticism leveled against the inefficiency and alleged corruption in ARMM has foundation, it is also true that the failure of the regional government can be attributed to weaknesses in RA 9054 that provided for what others called as ‘paper autonomy,” the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy said.

“We hope that the amendments to RA9054 will rectify the problematic provisions of the autonomy law specially those relating to natural resources and devolution of powers to the regional government,” the group added. — Peace Advocates Zamboanga/Darwin Wally T. Wee