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  • 7/28/2019 Bangsamoro Press Kit



    There are symmetries in history that would sometimes appear to have been written by a

    disciplined, imaginative fictionist following a prefigured plot and a subtle, yet solid, narrative

    structure. Yet, we know of no one individual, or even one in concert with his cabal of plotters,

    that can ever predetermine the course the arrows and arcs and end-of-acts of a peoples



    The EDSA People Power Revolution was one such historical symmetry in the Filipino peoples

    collective experience. It has become a moving piece of history with a powerfully mythic


    There is another one.

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    In 1968, Senator Benigno Ninoy Aquino Jr. had exposed the infamous Jabidah massacre,

    and demanded justice for the mass murder in Corregidor of scores of hapless Muslim military


    The incident sparked outrage not just among members of the Muslim community but also

    among all decent members of Philippine society. It is known to have triggered the formation of

    the Moro National Liberation Front led by University of the Philippines Professor Nurullaji Nur

    Misuari, who became its Chairman. Thus began an organized and sustained Moro insurgency.

    In February 1986, three years after another violent event that was the assassination of Senator

    Ninoy Aquino, his widow emerged as the first woman president of the country. President

    Corazon C. Aquino led a People Power revolt that ousted the dictatorship of then President

    Ferdinand E. Marcos.

    Barely seven months into her presidency, she took the bold initiative of meeting with Nur

    Misuari to talk peace.

    In the journal of Malacaangs Presidential Management Staff (PMS), the following incident is

    recounted thus:

    THE AIR WAS thick with tension. Maimbung, Sulu was full of fierce-looking men armed to the

    teeth. Government soldiers filled one half of the town, while Muslim secessionists controlled the

    other. It was September 1986, and the battle-weary town was expecting an unusual guest. For

    Senator Benigno Ninoy S. Aquino, Jr. on September

    13, 1972 delivers at the Senate session hall his privilege

    speech on Oplan Sagittarius, a top-secret military

    plan to place Metro Manila and outlying areas under

    the control of the Philippine Constabulary as a prelude

    to Martial Law. Earlier in 1968 in the same hall, Sen.

    Aquino exposed the Jabidah massacre which triggered

    a renewed armed separatist movement in Mindanao.

    (Photo source: Presidential Museum and Library)

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    the first time in the history of the nation, its President was about to land in the heart of conflict.

    She was either insane or very fearless, indeed.

    President Aquino broke protocol and personally met Nur Misuari, Chairman of the Moro

    National Liberation Front (MNLF) on that day. The unprecedented move manifested the

    President's resolve to exhaust all peaceful means to achieve the peace which eluded Mindanaofor so many years. It was a significant breakthrough, marking the first step in the peace process.

    In his eyeball-to-eyeball meeting with the President, Misuari agreed to cease hostilities and sit

    down with the government on how to arrive at a political solution. And as a further proof of

    government's sincerity, Misuari was allowed to hold consultations in Mindanao.

    SOURCE: Presidential Museum and Library

    On September 5, 1986, President Corazon C. Aquino flew to Sulu to personally meet with Nur Misuari, Chairman

    of the MNLF. With the President were then Secretary of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile, then AFP Chief of

    Staff General Fidel V. Ramos, Maj. Gen. Jose Magno, and Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Mamintal Tamano. In

    the above photo, President Aquino is flanked by Nur Misuari and by his wife Desdemona.

    In August, 2009, President Corazon C. Aquino succumbed to colon cancer. The nation grieved

    on the loss of a beloved leader. Her passing inspired a clamor for her senator son, Benigno

    Noynoy S. Aquino III, to run for the presidency.

    With a clear reform agenda embodied in his Social Contract with the Filipino People, Noynoy

    Aquino was elected President in the first automated national elections of 10 May 2010.
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    On August 4, 2011 he would also break protocol, just like his mother did 26 years earlier, to

    reinvigorate the peace dialogue between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic

    Liberation Front (MILF).

    Reports MindaNews in its August 5, 2011 issue:

    [GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/05 August) President Benigno Simeon Aquino III did

    what his mother did 25 years ago in pursuit of peace: meet with rebel leaders.Twenty five

    years later, her son, now also a President, traveled to Japan andmet Thursday night with Al Haj

    Murad Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, to fast-track the peace negotiations

    and ensure that implementation of whatever peace agreement may be forged, can be done

    within the remaining five years of his administration.

    SOURCE: Malacaang Photo Bureau/Jay Morales

    The President traveled with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, who was the Presidential

    Security Group chief when his mother met with Nur Misuari; National Security Adviser Cesar

    Garcia, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Presidential Peace

    Adviser Teresita Quintos-Deles, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda and Government

    Peace Panel Chair Marvic Leonen.

    The historic meeting with MILF Chairman Murad drew generally positive reactions from various

    sectors in Mindanao.
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    Guiamel Alim, a member of the Council of Elders of the Consortioum of Bangsamoro Civil Society

    (CBCS) said the meeting is the highest form of confidence-building in the peace process that

    can fast-track the talks to its final conclusion.

    Former Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said the meeting reminded him of what

    President Cory Aquino did in 1986:

    For her son, President Noynoy to take a similar bold step for peace is also historic. From where I

    sit, I consider this meeting as an effort to fast track the peace process. We congratulate both the

    government and the MILF in taking the unconventional route just so an early settlement can be

    mutually forged, he said.]

    There is a bequeathing of the legacy of peace from his revered parents to President Benigno

    Noynoy S.Aquino III. In father, mother, and son the same light sparked their quest for peace.

    Today, a momentous public commitment to pursue a

    sustainable and enduring regime of peace based on

    common experience, common ground, shared

    humanity, and shared history takes place.

    The signing of the document, Framework Agreement on

    the Bangsamoro, serves as a virtual bridge that would

    deliver the Filipinos toward the full fruition of their

    aspirations for a just and enduring peace in Mindanao.

    This framework agreement is our bridge and bequest of

    peace to present and future generations of Filipinos.

    Yet, as President Aquino said in his speech announcing

    the finalization of the agreement on October 7, 2012,

    challenges remain and the government is determined

    to forge ahead to fulfill its mission of attaining long-

    term peace and stability in Mindanao:

    The work does not end here. There are still details that both sides must hammer

    out. Promises must be kept, institutions must be fixed, and new capacities must be

    built nationally and regionally in order to effectively administer the Bangsamoro.

    The citizenry, especially the youth, must be empowered so that new leaders may


    PEACE to one and all! 1

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    Timeline of the

    Government of the Philippines (GPH) and MILF

    Peace Negotiations

    Prepared by the Office of the

    Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)

    Even before the armed conflict in Mindanao, some Moroleaders in the past have already asserted their aspiration of

    not wanting to be part of the Philippines:

    1924: Zambuangga Declaration - Letter of some Moro leaders to US

    Congress: proposed plebiscite be held 50 years after Philippine

    independence, for Moros to decide whether to be part of Philippines or

    be an independent state.

    1935: Dansalan Declaration - Letter of some Moro leaders to US

    President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: we do not want to be included

    in the Philippine independence.

    1961: Bill filed by Sulu Congressman Ombra Amilbangsa seeking togrant and recognize the independence of the province of Sulu.

    Following is a chronology of the armed conflict in Mindanao

    and peace negotiations that were conducted that sought to

    end the conflict:

    1968 March: The Jabidah Massacre- Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino made anexpose about the massacre of at least 28 Muslim army recruits (calledthe Jabidah commandos) who were secretly undergoing commando

    training at Corregidor Island. According to accounts, the training was

    part of a plot by President Marcos to infiltrate Sabah, agitate the

    people there to turn against their government, and demand annexation

    to the Philippines. When the trainees refused, they were summarily


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    May 1: The MIndanao Independence Movement (MIM) - Amidst the

    backdrop of crystallizing Muslim discontent due to the Jabidah

    massacre, former governor of the empire province of (undivided)

    Cotabato, Datu Udtog Matalam spearheaded the issuance of a

    manifesto under the MIM banner declaring independence from the

    Republic of the Philippines.

    1969 The Ilaga movement - In response to the threatening declarations ofthe MIM, as well as its rumored secret military camps, and to protect

    their election bids in 1971, certain diehard anti-Muslim politicians

    (known as the Magic 7) in the Central Mindanao area came together in

    September to formally organize the Ilaga movement.

    1971 The Mindanao Crisis - Violent conflicts erupted among Muslim andChristian civilians, and among politicians. This was highlighted byseveral massacres such as the Manili massacre in Carmen, Cotabato

    and the Tacub massacre in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte.

    1972 Establishment of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) foundedby then U.P. Professor Nur Misuari, seeking to establish an

    independent "Bangsamoro Republik."


    The 1976 Tripoli Agreement- provided the framework for the creation

    of an autonomous region in Southern Philippines; identified 13provinces and 9 cities as areas of autonomy in Southern Philippines,

    subject to Philippine Constitutional processes.

    1984 Formal establishment of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)founded by Ustadz Salamat Hashim (a former MNLF leader).

    1987 The 1987 Constitution during the time of President Corazon Aquinoprovided for the establishment of autonomous regions in the

    Cordilleras and Mindanao.

    1996 Signing of the 1996 Government of the Republic of the Philippines(GRP) - MNLF Final Peace Agreement.

    1997 Peace negotiations started between the GRP and the MILF.

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    2000 Declaration of all-out war by former President Joseph Estradaagainst the MILF.

    2001 Passage of Republic Act (R.A.) 9054 to strengthen and expand the

    Organic Act for the ARMM.

    Peace talks with the MILF resumed under former President Gloria


    2003 The "Buliok Incident" - breakout of hostilities between Governmentand MILF forces in Central Mindanao following large scale AFP

    operations in Pikit and Pagalungan municipalities against the

    "Pentagon" kidnap-for-ransom group; ceasefire was re-imposed in July

    of the same year.

    2004 Arrival of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT)tasked to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire.

    Substantive discussions on the "ancestral domain" issue commenced at

    the peace negotiations.


    The GRP-MILF Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain

    (MOA-AD) was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court;hostilities resumed in Central Mindanao.

    2009 Ceasefire between Government and MILF forces was re-imposed andpeace talks resumed; both sides also agreed to form the International

    Contact Group (ICG) and the IMT's Civilian Protection Component


    2010President Benigno S. Aquino III becomes the 15th President of the

    Philippines and committed his administration, among others, to "acomprehensive, just and peaceful solution to the situation in


    Ms. Teresita Quintos-Deles was appointed Presidential Adviser on the

    Peace Process; Atty. Marvic Leonen was appointed as Government's

    chief negotiator for talks with the MILF.

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    2011 January - Informal talks were held in Malaysia, marking the first face-to-face meeting between both sides under the Aquino administration.

    February - Formal resumption of peace negotiations (or the 20th

    round of Exploratory Talks), where both sides renewed the mandate of

    the IMT and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG); the MILF alsosubmitted its revised draft Comprehensive Compact.

    June - Passage of R.A. 10153 synchronizing the ARMM elections with

    the conduct of national and local elections.

    August - Historic meeting between President Aquino and MILF

    Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo, Japan, marking the first

    time that a President meets with the Chair of the MILF since the

    negotiations started.

    September - MILF Central Committee declared that Ameril Umra Katoand the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement / Bangsamoro

    Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFM/BIFF) were no longer part of the

    MILF organization.

    October - Armed encounter between Government and MILF forces

    took place in Al-Barka municipality in Basilan; despite calls by some

    sectors for all-out-war against the MILF at that time, the President

    instead vowed to pursue the track of all-out-justice based on a

    truthful determination of the actual events that led to the armed


    2012 Number of armed encounters between Government and MILF forcesdrops to zero.

    April - Signing of the GPH-MILF Decision Points on Principles as of

    April 2012 during the conclusion of the 27th round of Exploratory

    Talks. This document guides the discussions on the substantive agenda

    of the negotiations.

    October - At the end of the 32nd round of Exploratory Talks, the

    Panels announced the forging of the "Agreement on the Bangsamoro"which will serve as the "overarching architecture for the Mindanao

    peace process and provides the foundation for a just and enduring

    peace in Mindanao."

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    Historic meeting between President Aquino and MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in

    Tokyo, Japan, marking the first time that a President meets with the Chair of the MILF since the

    negotiations started.

    SOURCE: Malacaang Photo Bureau/Jay Morales

    As he announced the completion of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the

    President said:

    I am not a young man; I think I am only slightly younger than Al Haj Murad. The

    time will come when we will both have to relinquish our positions. We are united

    by hope: hope that we may bequeath to the next generation a better situation in

    the parts of Mindanao long torn by conflict.

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    Key Excerpts from the Speech of President Benigno S. Aquino III

    on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro

    October 7, 2012; Malacanang Palace

    This framework agreement is about rising above our prejudices. It is about casting asidethe distrust and myopia that has plagued the efforts of the past; it is about learning hard

    lessons and building on the gains we have achieved. It is about acknowledging that trust

    has to be earned it is about forging a partnership that rests on the bedrock of sincerity,

    good will, and hard work.

    We have come to where we now stand, because trust has replaced doubt. There arechallenges yet to face, and I entreat all Filipinos who thirst for peace with this mission:

    continue to sow trust, let us widen it and make it more pronounced in the days and

    weeks to come. Other triumphs will be sure to follow. Onward we will march towardstability; prosperity will illumine our entire country as a result of progress in one region;

    our dreams will become a reality.

    For so long, it was impossible to even aspire for these things. But we have proven:Nothing is impossible to those who are willing to unite, to work for solutions, and to act

    towards consensus. Finally, we have achieved peace, a peace that will serve as the

    foundation of our dreams for Bangsamoro, for Mindanao, and for the entire Filipino


    As we read the Agreement, let us not think in terms of them and us, but rather as awe united under a single flag. The time for misunderstandings has passed, and if we

    truly care for one another, then it is only a matter of time: a matter of time before we

    put an end to violence; a matter of time before normalcy is restored to the Filipinos of


    This Agreement allows us to dream: The time is near when any foreigner visiting thePhilippines will surely have the provinces of Bangsamoro in his itinerary. The time is near

    when a tourist wanting to go to Pagudpud can opt to go to Sulu. Children going to school

    whether in Quezon City or Lamitan will have the same quality education; hospitalswhether in Pasig or Patikul can offer the same quality health care; businesses will

    flourish, whether one chooses to invest in Marikina or Marawi.

    The work does not end here. There are still details that both sides must hammer out.Promises must be kept, institutions must be fixed, and new capacities must be built

    nationally and regionally in order to effectively administer the Bangsamoro. The

    citizenry, especially the youth, must be empowered so that new leaders may emerge.