PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT AGREEMENTS and NEGOTIATIONS with BANGSA MORO GROUPS

Posted on June 19, 2016

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This is a CONTINUATION of Prof. Macapanton Yahya Abbas‘s “Is a Bangsa Moro State within a Federation the Solution?”

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OIC RECOGNITION

As mentioned earlier, this author was sent as a lawyer to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in February 1972 at the Islamic OIC LOGOConference of Foreign Ministers of the OIC.  He met with Secretary General Tengku Abdul Rahman and asked King Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz to mention the issue in his speech.  King Faisal also called Tun Abdul Razak to support the case, which Malaysia did.  Minister Buoyaser of Libya coordinated with the Moros and got the Bangsa Moro issue into the agenda for the next conference in Libya.  That was how the Bangsa Moro issue became the concern of the OIC from 1972 to the present – 29 years and still not finally settled.  When martial law was declared, the author was  arrested and detained at Fort Bonifacio.  In 1976, he went into exile in Saudi Arabia until 1987, after EDSA I upon invitation of the government under President Corazon C. Aquino.

In 1972, the Bangsa Moro clans led the fight against the military that were sent to the Moro areas to collect loose firearms which started with the October uprising in Marawi in 1972.  Later in 1973, the MNLF gradually took over the leadership of the armed struggle because of the weapons they were able to bring into Mindanao and logistics donated by supporters of the Bangsa Moro JIHAD. The OIC and many Islamic organizations and governments gave political and material support to the Bangsa Moro.  The OIC Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Libya, Somalia and Senegal came to the Philippines in 1973 and met with the President and agreed to work out a political solution.  They went to the Muslim areas up to Sulu.  In 1974, the burning of Jolo resulted when the MNLF fighters entered Jolo and a very big battle raged with naval bombardment ordered against Jolo in disregard for innocent civilian lives.

As a consequence, the 1974 Islamic Summit was held in Islamabad, Pakistan.  The Summit declared that the situation of the Bangsa Moro Muslims was not an internal problem but a concern of the whole Muslim world.  This was demanded by the Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak.  The Bangsa Moro was allowed to convene in Marawi City by President Marcos. The Confederation of the Royal Houses of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan led by its Chairman, Sultan Harun Al Rashid Lucman and this author as the Supervising Officers of the Presidential Task Force for the Reconstruction and Development of Mindanao, held the “Mindanao Policy Conference” and came out with a resolution demanding regional political autonomy. This was at the height of martial law and it became the political basis for the OIC to demand regional political autonomy and the demand for negotiations with the Bangsa Moro leaders and the MNLF at the 1974 Kuala Lumpur Conference of OIC-ICFM.  At this time there was only one leadership and organization – the MNLF.  The Bangsa Moro struggle got the support of the Muslim states and the first negotiation between MNLF and GRP was in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia hosted by the OIC in 1975.  Executive Secretary Alejandro Melchor led the GRP delegation.

NEGOTIATIONS WITH BANGSA MORO

In 1976, the government created a negotiating panel headed by Carmelo Z. Barbero to talk peace again with the MNLF.  The talks were held under the auspices of the OIC in Tripoli, Libya.  The peace talks resulted in the forging of the now historic Tripoli Agreement and recognized as the historic territories of the Bangsa Moro Darul Salam of the Sultanates of Sulu, Maguindanao, Pat-a Pagampong a Ranao, Rajah Buayan and Saragani or the areas almost corresponding to the Moro Province during the American occupation which is the whole of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan except the Caraga Region.  To end the war, the areas of autonomy consisting of 13 provinces and cities therein were recognized by the GRP as the Bangsa Moro Homeland.  These are the areas which were later constituted as the SZOPAD – Special Zone of Peace and Development. President Marcos held a referendum on the areas of autonomy and reduced the area to 10 provinces and cities and established the Regional Commissions for Regions 9 and 12.  The violation of the Tripoli Agreement was from its inception and it was more honored in the breach rather in compliance.  In 1977, Hashim Salamat, the MNLF Vice Chairman for Foreign Affairs left the organization and formed as separate faction of the MNLF. After a few years when OIC did not recognize him, Salamat organized the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), emphasizing Islam instead of only political and economic grievance of the Bangsa Moro.

This split was later followed in 1982 when the Moro Peoples National Congress of MNLF led by Atty. Abdul Basit Harrid (Jibril Riddah) and Haji Napis Bidin ousted Chairman Nur Misuari and installed Commander Dimas Pundato as Chairman, supported by many active commanders in the Homeland.  Pundato was then Vice-Chairman of Misuari’s MNLF.  The BMLO and the Pundato faction later joined forces and established the MNLF-Reformist Group.  The group disbanded when Pundato joined the government as OMA Chief under President Corazon Aquino.  The reformist commanders who did not join the government like Cdr. Digo and Cdr. Iqra formed in 1999, the new MNLF-Islamic Command Council with Mujahab Hashim as Chairman and Cdr. Milham Alam as Chief of Staff.  Eventually, the four MNLF factions reunited and approved a constitution in Tripoli, Libya, April 2003.  They have not yet elected a Chairman and other officers.

TRIPOLI AGREEMENT 1976

The government implemented the Tripoli Agreement unilaterally in a manner that was in contravention with the letter and spirit of the said Agreement.  In 1986, President Marcos was deposed through “People Power” and Tripoli AgreementCorazon C. Aquino ascended to the Presidency.  She did not honor fully the Tripoli Agreement according to MNLF – the only pact, treaty or agreement signed during the Marcos regime that Aquino refused to recognize despite the commitment of Ninoy Aquino, to fully implement the Tripoli Agreement and if autonomy would not work after ten years, he will support the independence of Bangsa Moro.  This author was present when this statement was made in 1982 because Sultan Rashid Lucman, General Salipada Pendatun and this author met with King Khalid Bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia with Ninoy Aquino at the King’s Palace in Taif, Saudi Arabia.   We also arranged and gave Ninoy his passport “Martial Bonifacio” which he filled-up at Sheraton Hotel, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in this author’s presence.

The author was able with exiled Moro leaders in Saudi Arabia like the late Ambassador Mauyag Tamano to convince the then OIC Secretary General Puzada to send a message to President Aquino recognizing her as the President of the Philippines in March 1, 1986.  This was five days after EDSA I  and the forty-nine (49) Muslim states were the first to recognized the legality of EDSA I.  This fact has never been mentioned in the EDSA I history which is unfortunate because the Bangsa Moro conflict would have been settled much earlier.

President Aquino created a Constitutional Commission (ConCom) that drafted a new constitution for the country.  The new constitution contained a provision for the creation of an Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.  The new constitution was ratified in 1987 and a new Congress was established in the same year.  Art. X was the reason why the MNLF broke-off negotiations with President Aquino and the MNLF did not recognize the Organic Act.  The MILF adopted the same position and both boycotted the elections.  Majority of the Muslim rejected or boycotted the said Act. It was for this reason that the Act was ratified by only four (4) provinces.  The Christians and the Lumad’s (culturally indigenous groups) did not reject per se the concept of regional autonomy.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., sponsored the bill in the Senate- the “Organic Act for Muslim Mindanao” which was signed into law as Republic Act (RA) No. 6734*.  The MNLF and MILF claimed that it was a betrayal of the Tripoli Agreement, a charge that Senator Pimentel refuted by claiming that the law implemented 99% of the Tripoli Agreement.  President Ramos in 1993 revived negotiations with Chairman Misuari to fully implement the Tripoli Agreement as a binding international obligation and commitment.  This was an admission that RA 6734 did not implement fully the Tripoli Agreement.  The Final Peace Agreement (FPA) was signed on September, 1996 between the MNLF/OIC and GRP in Jakarta and finally in Manila.

FINAL PEACE AGREEMENT (FPA) 1996

The FPA provided for the reorganization of the ARMM and the establishment of the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD) and its Consultative Assembly (CA).  The SPCPD was tasked with coordinating development programs and projects for Mindanao but the government failed to provide the necessary funds and Jakarta Accordsupport facilities to the SPCPD, the government had allegedly allocated FORTY ONE BILLION PESOS (P41B) but only Eighteen (18B) Billion Pesos had been disbursed according to SPCPD/ARMM officials form 1996-2000.  It also did not cooperate with the SPCPD in implementing the development programs and projects for Mindanao.  There was inadequate funding and later in the Senate Hearings the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) admitted that the total releases for ARMM were below P18 Billion under the term of Regional Governor Misuari and most of the funds were for personnel services for the devolved agencies.  There was nothing “Final” in the Agreement because it was subject to the “Will of Congress” and the “Dictates of the Executive.”

The creation of the Mindanao Coordinating Council had sidelined the SPCPD  (established by E.O. 371), which was created by President Estrada to be the arm of the Office of the President in the planning, recommendation, coordination and monitoring/validating nationally and internationally funded socio-economic projects in the SZOPAD areas.  The Chairman of the Consultative Assembly of SPCPD announced that there would be en masse resignations by the ASSEMBLYMEN because the MCC under EO 261, S.2000, and the SPCPD/ARMM were monitoring and validating agencies but were not represented in the council and no Muslim was appointed to the council.  This author was invited to address the First Joint Sessions of the ARMM-RLA and the SPCPD-Consultative Assembly on September, 2001 upon the invitation of Chairman Misuari at General Santos City. The creation of the MCC and non-implementation of the FPA and the failure to enact the Organic Act* agreed to in the FPA was denounced and the resolution was forwarded to GRP and the OIC Fact Finding Mission of the OIC.  Fr. Eliseo Mercado claims that the SPCPD has been rendered virtually inutile as Chairman Nur Misuari has earlier declared. Without the SPCPD then, the FPA should be considered revoked at least by implication because there is no more implementing agency.  After the ratification last August 14, 2001 of the Organic Law, then the SPCPD was ipso facto abolished and the SPDA was abolished in 2002.

From 1999 to 2002 the government failed to fully implement the FPA in its substantive provisions as far as MNLF/OIC is concerned (later as evidenced by Resolution No. 02-30, May 30, 2003, 30th ICFM at Tehran, Iran). At the same time the negotiations with the MILF broke down and led to renewed fighting between government troops and this time, the MILF carried on the Moro armed struggle when the MNLF decided to stop fighting after they signed the FPA and its chairman became then ARMM regional governor and concurrent SPCPD chairman.  On the other hand, Joseph Ejercito Estrada was elected President in 1998 with the support of the MILF and many Islamic organizations because he signed an agreement with Ummah Party of Lanao del Sur to pursue peace and development and appoint a Muslim to the cabinet and other high positions.  He also announced that he would establish a Malacañang in the south as well as implement the peace process and the FPA.

AGREEMENT WITH MILF

In August of 1998, the GRP and MILF signed an Interim Agreement to continue the negotiations started with the GRP under President Ramos.  There was a lot of goodwill because the new AFP chief of Staff, General Nazareno was even endorsed by MILF and the MILF supported President Estrada on the week of the elections.  The President knew this, Presidential Adviser for Flagship Projects; Robert Aventajado even brought the reply of the President to Camp Abubakar and met with Chairman Hashim Salamat.  He later became a frequent visitor and gave socio-economic projects and infrastructure projects to MILF as confidence building measures and entered into an agreement making the area a zone for peace.  The GRP also entered into agreements with MILF acknowledging the major camps of the MILF and this was under President Estrada and not under President Ramos. Everyone was euphoric that peace was at hand and development and progress will follow as the peace dividends.  Later, the “all-out war” of President Estrada was launched against the MILF despite the signing of the Aide Memoire between the GRP and MILF.  The rest is history chronicled in blood in Mindanao and street protests all over the country.  It culminated with EDSA II and the ouster of Estrada.

The new President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared an “all-out peace” policy and dropped all the charges against Chairman Salamat and other MILF leaders and started new negotiations.  The new all out war against MILF was again launched by Secretary Angelo Reyes in February 2002 during the Eidul Adha prayers in the early morning of February 10, 2003 at the Islamic Center of the Buliok complex at Pikit, Cotabato after there was already a decision by both the GRP and MILF to meet at Kuala Lumpur to discuss the peace agreement.  Secretary Eduardo Ermita even said on TV that day that it was “tragic” because of the peace process was going smoothly.  The panels met at Kuala Lumpur for exploratory talks and came up with a Joint Statement on March 28, 2003.  This was after the Davao International Airport bombing on March 4, 2003.  The March 28, 2003 agreement was not implemented because of another bombing on April 4, 2003 at Sasa Port, Davao City.  Again Exploratory Talks were held at Kuala Lumpur and another agreement was made in June 21, 2003.  This was again not implemented because despite the two unilateral declarations of MILF to stop all offensive military actions on May 28 and June 12, 2003, respectively, the AFP did respond and military operations against the MILF forces continued.

However, on July 18, 2003, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement between MILF and GRP which was finally signed by MILF on July 20, 2003 because Chairman Al Haj Murad was in the mountain areas at that time, Chairman Hashim Salamat already died on July 13, 2003 and since Murad signed the Ceasefire Agreement, it is significant because he was already the Chairman of the MILF and the GRP signed through Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Chairman of the GRP panel.  The Coordinating Committee for the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of GRP-MILF met for the IOTH- CCCH meeting at Cotabato City on August 4, 2003.  I was present as a guest being the Secretary General of the Philippine Muslim Leaders Forum.  The CCCH is now operational and they are working to organize the Local Monitoring Team (LMT’s) to enforce the ceasefire.  Malaysia is expected to send observers.

The ceasefire agreement between the GRP and MILF was signed principally because of the insistence of the Philippine Muslim Leaders Forum (PMLF) which is the broadest loose associations of Muslim elected and appointing Muslim officials with the government to stop military operations and enforce the ceasefire.

In a letter sent to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on July 16, 2003 by PMLF Chairman Deputy Speaker Gerry Salapuddin[38] presented the situation and urgent need for a ceasefire to restart the peace talks:

“The MILF officials met with U.S. officials for two hours yesterday and have discussed the relationship and time-line with the U.S. in the peace process.  They are also coordinating with Malaysia.  After our lengthy discussions, we have agreed that the PMLF will present to Your Excellency the herein suggestions to break the impasse.  I called Secretary Eduardo Ermita in the presence of the MILF officials and told him about these suggestions, and he agreed that this Memorandum be submitted today.

“As agreed last June 21, 2003, once the GRP drops the charges and cancels the warrants and begins the phased redeployment of military forces in Buliok, which it has started with the return of the Islamic Center, and the MILF has internally ordered their men at arms to desist as they have desisted from offensive military actions, the GRP will Issue a SOMO soonest after June 23, 2003.

“Immediately, by June 28, 2003 the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) will be reconvened for the permanent ceasefire and reactivate the Local Monitoring Teams (LMTs).  The GRP CCCH Chairman shall be headed by a General from the AFP.  The meeting was supposed to be held on June 28, 2003 in Estosan Hotel, Cotabato.  Arrangements were to be made by Secretary Norberto Gonzales but the meeting did not push through because Sec. Gonzales left for Europe.  He rescheduled it for July 12, 2003 but he GRP panel was informed late and therefore asked for postponement.  It was rescheduled to July 18, 2003 but Malaysia is still waiting for the settlement of the Issue on the warrants of arrest and the MILF is also waiting for the SOMO of the GRP.

“In view of these developments, we agreed to propose that the meeting be held immediately between the GRP and the MILF wherein both parties will simultaneously declare the effectivity of the ceasefire agreement of June 21, 2003, convene the CCCH, and reactivate the LMTs.

“The Malaysians will now be requested to send the international monitoring teams to monitor the ceasefire in coordination with the CCCH and the LMTs.

“As provided in the GRP-MILF joint communiqué of May 6, 2003 signed in Malaysia, “the MILF and GRP shall from an Ad-Hoc Joint Action Group against criminal elements in order to pursue and apprehend such criminal elements.”  Furthermore, the Ad-Hoc Joint Action Group “will operate in tandem with their respective Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities.”

“The U.S. can now be requested to contribute funds for the operation of the CCCH and the LMTs as well as discuss with the GRP-MILF the areas or projects where the U.S. can contribute the funds as offered.”[39]

 

Again, in the Memorandum sent by the author to Secretary Eduardo Ermita on GRP and MILF Negotiations dated July 17, 2003, where he amplified in the Memorandum of Deputy Speaker for Mindanao Gerry Salapudin and discussed the Minutes of the March 28, 2003 Joint Statement and the June 21, 2003 GRP-MILF understanding and the letter of US President Bush to Chairman Salamat, he stated that:

“3.  The Joint Statement of March 28, 2003 between the GRP and the MILF agreed on the following points:

  1. Both parties reiterate their commitment to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting political settlement of the conflict in Mindanao and resolve to undertake appropriate steps to pave the way for the resumption of the formal GRP-MILF peace negotiations;
  1. Both parties reaffirm to implement effectively on the ground all past and existing GRP-MILF agreements. Details of implementation shall be discussed by the Panels;
  2.  Both parties agree to exercise mutual restraint to minimize, if not put an end to, violence in Mindanao; 
  3.  To normalize the situation and facilitate the early return of evacuees to their places of origin and allow rehabilitation to proceed, a new arrangement on the ground will be forged by both parties;
  4. The Philippine government takes note of the activation of the Bangsamoro Development Agency;
  5. Both parties agree to direct their respective Technical Committees to work on the Implementing Guidelines of the Joint Communiqué signed on May 6, 2002 to ensure that the peace process is not adversely affected by the presence of criminal groups in Mindanao. The Technical Committees will meet within two (2) weeks from today;
  6. The parties agree to improve the existing mechanism for monitoring of the cessation of hostilities including the composition of an observer/monitoring groups as provided for in the Implementing Guidelines on the Security Aspect of the Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001;
  7. The parties reaffirm the provision on the grant of Safety and Security Guarantees to MILF leaders and members who are directly and principally involved in the GRP-MILF peace talks; and
  8. Both parties express their gratitude for the gracious hospitality of the Government of Malaysia in hosting and facilitating the exploratory talks and for continuing its support to the peace process.”[40]

 

“Under item no. 1, the “The phrase resolved to undertake steps” means the GRP agreed to undertake appropriate steps to cover the withdrawal of AFP troops from Buliok Complex and recalls of warrants of arrest issued against all MILF leaders and members.  The pull out and recalls will be conducted within 4 weeks from today.  While the term “resumption” means formal negotiation will be back on track but Malaysia has to be consulted as agreed by both parties.”  This item was again reiterated on June 21, 2003 between the GRP and the MILF under item no. 3(b), “In response to this positive development, the GRP has agreed to undertake the following:

 

  • Facilitate the judicial process, in coordination with the Department of Justice, leading to the lifting of the Warrants of Arrests filed against MILF leaders and the Reward bounties for the apprehension of certain MILF leaders;
  •  Begin the process leading to the phased redeployment of military forces from the Buliok Complex”[41]

It is very clear that the commitment to recall the Warrant of Arrests against all MILF leaders should have been done within four weeks from March 28, 2003 which was April 28, 2003 by the GRP. In the June 21, 2003 understanding mention again was made to facilitate the judicial process with the DOJ to lift such warrants and cancel the bounties.  In the understanding of June 16, 2003 between the GRP and the MILF, the lifting of warrants and bounties was an obligation of the GRP which they will consult with the principal and the GRP agreed to these points.  GRP has partially withdrawn from Buliok Complex and returned the Islamic Center to Datu Abbas Pendatun, Sanggunian Member of North Cotabato.

  1. In the June 21, 2003 understanding, the GRP stated that “The June 20, 2003 MILF Statement entitled “Policy Statement of MILF Chair Salamat Hashim Rejecting Terror as a Means to Resolve Differences” substantially responds to the need for the MILF to publicly condemn terrorism and terrorist organizations.”[42] The GRP acceptance should have led to the GRP issuances of SOMO at the soonest possible time immediately after June 23, 2003.  A meeting of the CCCH was scheduled on June 28, 2003 at Estosan, Cotabato City to be coordinated by Sec. Gonzales and Atty. Ali.  The purpose was to re-establish the ceasefire under the agreement of June 2001 and reactivated the LMT’s.  The Malaysian Monitoring Team will be fielded to monitor the ceasefire all over the areas of conflict.  The GRP has already requested Malaysia.

 

  1. In the understanding of June 21, 2003, “On the issue of Chairman Salamat’s presence during the peace negotiations, the MILF noted that Chairman Salamat has made known his intention to be present during the finalization of the GRP-MILF Peace Agreement and on the actual signing of the said Agreement.

 

The GRP, noting that Chairman Salamat’s presence would be much preferred during the talks, will request for Chairman Salamat’s presence during the Opening Ceremony for the resumption of formal talks.”[43]  The MILF Panel informed the PMLF in our talks last June 15, 2003 that Chairman Salamat has agreed to be present in the Opening Ceremony as confirmed to you in the memo of the PMLF.

  1. Going back to the May 20, 2003 letter of Chairman Salamat to President Bush, this was actually the 2nd letter. The 1st letter (January 20, 2003) was a reply to US Ambassador Riciardone when he spoke before the FCAP when he raised the questions: “The US Government’s desire to know “What the MILF want or how its (the problem) going to be resolved”.  The MILF said “We take this opportunity to inform Your Excellency that the MILF is a national liberation organization, with leadership supported by the Bangsa Moro People, and with legitimate political goal to pursue the right of the Moro nation to determine their future and political status.  As part of this process, we have an on-going negotiation with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines to arrive at a negotiated political settlement of the Mindanao conflict and the Bangsa Moro problem, through the mediation and tender of good offices of the Government of Malaysia.”[44]
  1. It is this letter that was answered by the Joint Statement of US President and Arroyo on May 19, 2003 and the speech of Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage explaining the new US Policy which was accepted by MILF of their May 20, 2003 letter. The US President instructed Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly to reply on June 18, 2003 to the letter of Chairman Salamat dated May 20, 2003.  This letter was hand carried by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Mathew Dailey and met with the MILF officials.  The basic points of the letter are:

The United States Government is committed to the territorial integrity of the Philippines.

 “The United States recognizes that the Muslims of the southern Philippines have serious, legitimate grievances that must be addressed.

 “The United States wishes to see an end to the violence in the southern Philippines and is working to assist the Republic of the Philippines in addressing the root causes of that violence.

 “The United States is concerned about the links between the MILF and international terrorist organizations and asks that those links be severed immediately.

 “The United States stands ready to support, both politically and financially, a bon fide peace process between the Republic of the Philippines and the MILF.

 “The United States appreciates the notable work that the Government of Malaysia has performed in this connection over the last two years, and will not seek to supplant Kuala Lumpur; indeed, we week to work with the Malaysians for a successful peace settlement.

 “The United States Government will not mediate between the Government of the Philippines, nor will it participate in the negotiations directly.  We have asked the United States Institute of Peace, a respected conflict-resolution organization, to encourage the negotiation process in coordination with the Government of Malaysia.  The USIP is ready to begin this task as soon as we have a clear signal from you as to your readiness to follow through.”[45]

 

This declaration of the US government addressed to the leader of a revolutionary organizations is a “First” for the US and World Affairs and also a “First” for the Bangsamoro Movement because MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari never received such a communication from the US President, particularly at this time when the United States has emerged as the only super power in the world.  This policy statement of the US President must be seriously considered by the GRP because of the proposed implications not only in the Philippines or Mindanao or the Asian but in the whole Muslim world.  The US offer of political and financial assistance to a bona fide peace process be properly accepted and understood.[46]

It is a rebuff to the peace process because it is considered by the United States as not bona fide or in bad faith.  Both parties must seriously evaluate their actions to restore confidence to the peace process.

  1. The assignment of the US government of the US Institute of Peace (USIP) is a direct involvement of the US government because the USIP is a Federal Institution funded by the US government since 1984 with the Congressional mandate and the Board of Directors are all appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate just like the members of the US Supreme Court. They have already scheduled meeting with MILF and plan exchange of missions.
  1. It is imperative that the GRP and MILF must implement their agreements which are binding international obligations of both parties mediated by Malaysia in March 28, 2003 and June 21, 2003 particularly convening the meeting of the CCCH and simultaneously declare the resumption of the ceasefire under the agreement of 2001 and cancel all the warrants of arrests and bounties against all the accused MILF. This is also the suggestion of the US as well as Malaysia and other OIC countries in support of the appeal of churches and other religious groups and civil society.  The conclusion of the US letter to Chairman Salamat clearly manifests the US concern for a peaceful political settlement:

“I note with satisfaction that the MILF has declared a temporary ceasefire, which I urge you to extend until a settlement is concluded.  Both sides need to refrain from actions that merely perpetuate the cycle of violence.  Neither side can win this conflict on the battlefield; however, both the MILF and the Republic of the Philippines can achieve a lasting victory for the people of Mindanao by coming to a settlement.”[47]

 

The two Memoranda played a vital role in convincing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to declare the ceasefire on July 18, 2003, five (5) days after the death of Chairman Hashim Salamat which was only confirmed on August 4, 2003 during the resumption of the meetings of the CCCH to re-establish the ceasefire.

 

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* R.A. No. 6734 was the original Organic Law for ARMM and was ratified by only four

provinces,  Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Maguindanao and Lanao Sur

* R.A. No. 6734 was the original Organic Law for ARMM and was ratified by only four

provinces,  Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Maguindanao and Lanao Sur

 

[38] Memorandum sent to Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo by Deputy Speaker Gerry

Salapuddin on the Peace Process dated July 16, 2003

[39] Salapuddin, Gerry, Memorandum to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, July 16, 2003

[40] GRP-MILF Joint Statement, Exploratory Talks at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March 28, 2003

[41] Understanding of GRP-MILF Exploratory Talks at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, June 21, 2003

[42] Ibid. Understanding

[43] Ibid. Understanding

[44] Letter of MILF Chairman Hashim Salamat to President George W. Bush, January 20, 2003

[45] Letter from US Department of State signed by Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly for

President Bush to MILF Chairman Hashim Salamat dated June 18, 2003. cited in the paper of

Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita, “Role of the Bishops-Ulama Conference in the Peace

Negotiations, Westin Philippine Plaza Hotel, August 18, 2003.

[46] Memorandum of Usec. Macapanton Y. Abbas, Jr. to Sec. Ermita on July 17, 2003 on the GRP-

MILF  Negotiations

[47] Op-cit. Memorandum of Usec. Macapanton Y. Abbas, Jr.

 

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This is from IS A BANGSA MORO STATE WITHIN A FEDERATION THE SOLUTION? by Macapanton Abbas, Jr. (Ateneo Law Journal  Vol. 48  Sept 2003)

 

TO CONTINUE, GO TO: INJUSTICE TO THE BANGSA MORO   door_rt

 

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