Peace monitors meet with gov’t, MILF

Angela Casauay

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The Third Party Monitoring Team is tasked to monitor, review and assess the final peace pact between the gov't and the MILF

OVERSEERS. Members of the Third Party Monitoring Team (From left) Karen Tañada, Steven Rood, Alistair MacDonald, Zainudin Malang. Not in photo: Omer Kesmen. Photo by OPAPP

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – They are the people tasked to monitor, review and assess the implementation of the yet to be completed comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro. 

For the first time, members of the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) in the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) joined the peace panels for the 38th round of talks here Monday, July 8. 

They are: 

  1. Former European Union ambassador to the Philippines Alistair MacDonald (chairman)
  2. Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute (GZOPI) Executive Director Karen Tañada
  3. The Asia Foundation Country representative to the Philippines Steven Rood 
  4. Mindanao Human Rights Action Center (MinHRAC) Executive Director Zainudin Malang
  5. Human Rights and Freedoms (IHH) Humanitarian Relief Foundation President Omer Kesmen 

TPMT members huddled with the peace panels in a closed-door meeting to discuss their mandate, as outlined in the terms of reference for the TPMT signed by both panels in January. 

It’s a huge mandate. The TPMT is responsible for looking after the whole transition process. And it is required to submit periodic reports on the status of the transition towards the creation of the new Bangsamoro political entity. 

Lesson learned

Third-party monitoring is designed to ensure that both sides keep their commitments.

The 1996 final peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front did not include this procedure. Up to now, the peace process with the MNLF is still undergoing a tripartite review. (The MILF is a breakaway group of the MNLF.) 

The peace process with the MILF does not end with the signing of the final peace pact. Once the comprehensive agreement is completed, the Transition Commission will start drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which will serve as the legal basis for the new political entity. 

The draft Basic Law, along with proposed constitutional amendments, will then go through Congress for ratification. Once the Basic Law is in place, the Transition Commission will be dissolved. A new body called the Bangsamoro Transition Authority will be formed to lead the transition towards the Bangsamoro until the 2016 general elections. 

Once this is complete, only then will the government and MILF peace panels sign an exit document terminating the peace negotiations. 

Without the final peace agreement, however, the TPMT, like other mechanisms for transition, can’t begin its work. Both panels resumed their talks on Monday, hoping to come a step closer to a final agreement. –

The Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) and its Terms of Reference by Rappler Philippines

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