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Philippines, MILF peace panels reaffirm commitment

Philippines, MILF peace panels reaffirm commitment
Sign Declaration of Continuity of the Partnership ahead of inauguration of Rodrigo Duterte as country’s next president

By Hader Glang

ZAMBOANGA CIY, the Philippines (AA) – The peace panels of the Philippines’ government and its one-time largest Muslim rebel group have signed a declaration expressing commitment to a 2014 peace deal ahead of the inauguration of Rodrigo Duterte as the country’s next president.

The sides said in a joint statement Monday that the Declaration of Continuity of the Partnership “seeks to ensure the full implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro [CAB] in the next administration.”

The peace panels of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) also congratulated Duterte on his victory in the May 9 election, and expressed optimism that “the roadmap provided for in the CAB will be fully accomplished under his term.”

The CAB was signed in 2014 under outgoing President Benigno Aquino III after 17 years of negotiations to end a decades-old armed conflict in southern Mindanao island -- from where Duterte hails.

It would have been sealed by a proposed autonomy law, but the Bangsamoro Basic Bill (BBL) was stalled earlier this year as Congress adjourned for campaigning for the election.

In Monday’s statement, the peace panels expressed appreciation for Aquino and for a nominee for presidential peace adviser under Duterte, Jesus G. Dureza, for a statement in which he welcomed the forging of a “declaration of continuity in the search for sustainable peace”.

It underlined Dureza’s expressed intent “to continue with the gains and build on those already done and achieved.”

Last week, MILF leaders said they have been left perplexed by remarks made by a political ally of Duterte about the BBL.

Davao Del Norte representative-elect -- and Duterte's choice for Speaker of the House of Representatives -- Pantaleon Alvarez, had suggested that the bill be overridden by plans to introduce a federal system.

"Without doubt is a non-starter. It does not build confidence that the Duterte administration understands the Bangsamoro problem," an editorial on Luwaran.com, the MILF’s official website, said Tuesday.

It referred to Alvarez's claim that "there’s no more need for a Bangsamoro Basic Law and that the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro had been rendered moot by the new government and its plan to federalize the political system."

The MILF announced itself "baffled" at Alvarez' claim, saying it runs contrary to statements by then candidate Duterte during visits to the MILF’s administrative base in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao province, on Feb. 27 and during the third and last presidential debate on April 24.

On both occasions, Duterte assured those present that he was behind the implementation of the CAB and the passage of the BBL and said he would consider the BBL as a template for federalizing the whole country.

The bill proposes to replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, establish a more inclusive Bangsamoro autonomous region, and brings to a close 17 years of negotiations.

source: News Feed
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