By Hader Glang
ZAMBOANGA CITY, (AA): The new Philippines president’s peace guru has said he expects rival Muslim rebel factions to come together to craft a new law to implement a two-year-old agreement to end four decades of fighting in the south.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said Thursday that the law would involve the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), representatives of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and indigenous people.
“They will make up the Bangsamoro Transition Commission [BTC] that will craft the new Bangsamoro Basic Law [BBL],” he was quoted as saying by news broadcaster ABS-CBN.
Dureza added that the MILF will have eight seats in the 15-member BTC, with the remaining seven seats distributed among other groups, who will bring to the table the 1996 MNLF peace deal and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao law.
BBL would have sealed the peace deal between the government and the MILF but debates on the legislation stalled after the deaths of 44 police commandos in an anti-terrorism raid in 2015.
It was shelved during campaigning for the May 9 election that President Rodrigo Duterte won by a landslide.
The chair of the largest of three factions of the MNLF, Muslimin Sema, has backed the MILF’s ongoing peace process with the government, despite a faction under founding chairman Nur Misuari considering the MILF’s 2014 peace deal with the government a betrayal of a 1996 Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)-brokered agreement.
“We will task them to first unite, go come together and craft another enabling law that will replace the BBL. I think this is the next best thing we can do,” Dureza said.
He added that “the roadmap” for peace in Mindanao was approved by Duterte during a National Security Council meeting on Wednesday and has received a “positive” response from MILF Chairman Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim.
“The way forward is for us to assure all these with whom we signed agreements, the MILF, the MNLF, that this administration is committed to implement all signed agreements,” Dureza said.
[Photo:New Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) greets U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) during his visit at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, July 27, 2016.Photographer: AP Photo/Aaron Favila/Pool/AA]