MANILA, Philippines (2nd Update) - The peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) marked two developments Monday, February 25, amid the ongoing standoff in Sabah.
President Benigno Aquino III on Monday named the members of the Transition Commission (TransCom) that will draft the basic law that would pave the way for the Bangsamoro political identity as the 36th round of peace talks started on the same day.
The 7 members representing Government of the Philippines (GPH) panel are:
Those nominated by the MILF are:
In a statement, Malacañang said the 7 appointees on the government side were chosen by a TransCom Selection Body composed of Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles, and the Secretary of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Mehol K. Sadain.
The Selection Body laid out the following major qualifications for each appointee:
The TransCom will be tasked to draft the basic law for the Bangsamoro, which will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
In the first month of the TransCom, government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said the body will establish the structural requirements vital to its operations, including its rules and procedures, financial and logistical systems, and work plan.
It will then "spell out in even finer detail" provisions in the annexes on power-sharing, wealth-sharing, normalization, and modalities and transitional arrangements, that will complement the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, Ferrer said.
The draft law will be tackled as an urgent measure in Congress. A new Bangsamoro Basic Law is targeted to be completed within the 16th Congress.
Peace talks and the Sabah standoff
As the peace talks resumed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Monday -- faciliated by Malaysian peace broker Dato'Tengku Abd' Ghafar Tengku Bin Mohamed -- the followers of the Sultan of Sulu remained holed up in Lahad Datu, Sabah despite the deadline set by Malaysia for them to leave the area. The original deadline had been Friday, February 22. It was moved to Sunday, February 24.
Reports said Sultan Jamalul Kiram sent his followers to Lahad Datu to renew their claim to Sabah after the sultanate felt left out of the Framework Agreement signed on Oct 15, 2011.
Both the MILF and the government have maintained that the peace talks between the MILF will continue despite ongoing tension in Sabah.
Although the MILF respects the legitimacy of the Sultanate of Sulu's claim to Sabah, MILF vice chair for Political Affairs Ghadzali Jaafar told Rappler it was a separate issue from the peace process for the Bangsamoro.
"I dont think it will affect the peace process this has nothing to do with the peace process. The peace process is about the Bangsamoro people, it's not about the claim to another territory," Jaafar said.
Ahead of the resumption of peace talks, Ferrer told Rappler that the creation of a new political identity would have to be resolved by other agencies and could not be resolved by the creation of the Bangsamoro political identity.
"The Sabah question is not on the negotiating table but what is on the table is the concerns of the Bangsamoro people that will be part of the new political identity. In that sense, the concerns of the Sultanate of Sulu, as part of the territories under the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement would be included. But we would have to distinguish that component with the issue of unsettled claims," she said.
"It's about peace in our communities. That's a question we will have to address but it's resolution that does not have to be parallel to the issue of creating a new political entity," she added. - Rappler.com