WHAT IS THE 1996 FINAL PEACE AGREEMENT (FPA)?
The 1996 Final Peace Agreement refers to the final agreement on the implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) with the participation of the Organization of Islamic Conference Ministerial Committee of The Six and the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Conference.
What are the provisions included in the 1996 FPA and its corresponding status of implementation?
The Agreement has two phases:
Phase I, Transitory Period which commenced immediately upon the signing of the Agreement resulted to the:
• Integration of 7,500 MNLF elements into the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP), out of the 5,750 slots provided in the FPA;
• Establishment of the Special Zone of Peace and Development (SZOPAD) and its transitory structures and mechanisms: Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD) and Consultative Assembly;
• Provision of socio-economic development programs from the government and ODA that combined, amounted to around Php109 billion from 1996 to 2004.
Phase II involved the amendment or repeal of RA 6734 and the establishment of a new autonomous government.
• Republic Act 9054 “An Act to Strengthen and Expand the Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 6734, Entitled ‘An Act Providing for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’, as Amended,” was passed by Congress, and signed into Law in 2001, which incorporated other provisions of the FPA in the establishment of the New Regional Autonomous Government;
• RA 9054 was ratified on 14 August 2001 in a plebiscite conducted in 15 provinces and 14 cities in Mindanao resulting to a new ARMM with an expanded territory covering five provinces and one city: Maguindanao (except Cotabato City), Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Lanao Del Sur, Basilan (except Isabela City), Marawi City.
• Elections were held in November, 2001 that resulted to the election of a new Regional Governor and Regional Vice-Governor, and members of the Regional Legislative Assembly;
• Implementation of the provisions of the FPA in the establishment of the New Regional Autonomous Government as included in RA 9054 were undertaken by the National Government and the ARMM Regional Government.
Why is there a Tripartite Implementation Review of the 1996 FPA?
While OIC member states acknowledged in its four resolutions the substantial completion of Phase I of the Final Peace Agreement, there had been contentions between the GPH and MNLF on the implementation of Phase II of the FPA.
Hence, the OIC called for the conduct of a high-level tripartite meeting to review the implementation of the 1996 FPA and make its assessment of the progress made as well as obstacles facing its full implementation with a particular focus on Phase II.
The Tripartite Review was also mandated to draw up modalities for a new joint monitoring committee to observe the implementation of the 1996 FPA.
What is the status of the GPH-OIC-MNLF Tripartite Implementation Review?
The Parties were able to achieve the following under the Tripartite Review Framework:
• 42 consensus points to comprise the amendatory bill to RA 9054 for the full implementation of the FPA
• Partnership in ARMM Governance Reform and Development
• Establishment of the Bangsamoro Development Assistance Fund (BDAF) – TOR completed and submitted to the Islamic Development Bank (IDB)
• Establishment of a Tripartite Implementation Monitoring Committee (TIMC) upon the completion of the review process to monitor all Tripartite Agreements Partnership in ARMM Governance Reform and Development Activation of the Regional Commission on Bangsamoro Women for the monitoring of PAMANA.
The GPH proposed to complete the Tripartite Review Process, which was thoroughly discussed with the OIC-PCSP Chair who clearly understood our position that the completion of the almost 6-year review process will not result in the closure of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.
This was manifested by the letter to the OIC Secretary General of Indonesian Foreign Minister Dr. Marty Natalegawa, which the Indonesian Ministry shared with us, that stated “the GPH conveyed its assurances that in the case of the closure of the Tripartite Implementation Review Process, GPH will continue to engage relevant parties of the MNLF, through existing mechanism, to find a just and comprehensive political solution for the issue of the Southern Philippines.”
What happened to the proposed bill that aims to amend RA 9054?
Nur Misuari did not agree to the submission of the proposed bill to amend RA 9054 until his three remaining issues are resolved.
What are Nur Misuari’s “unresolved issues” and the GPH responses on these issues?
Nur Misuari insists on the following three issues:
1. Plebiscite on territory
This provision was already complied with through the conduct of a Plebiscite on 14 August 2001, with the ratification of RA 9054 in the provinces of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Marawi City.
Likewise, the government explained that another Plebiscite will be held upon passage of a new Basic Law. The issue on the expansion of territory will be decided by Congress as will be incorporated in the said new Basic Law.
2. Provisional government
The 1996 FPA does not provide for a provisional government in the ARMM territory, but for the establishment of a “transitional implementing structure and mechanism,” which was satisfied through the establishment of the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD) that was chaired by Nur Misuari himself, concurrently as Regional Governor of ARMM.
There had not been any need for a Provisional Government since Nur Misuari ran as Administration candidate for the Regional Governor post during the 9 September 1996 elections in ARMM. His win and assumption of the Regional Governor post immediately after the signing of the GPH-MNLF Final Peace Agreement on 2 September 1996, began MNLF’s exercise of political leadership over ARMM for a total of nine years.
3. Sharing on strategic minerals:
The GPH explained that the issue brought forward by Nur Misuari does not need legislative action, and can already be resolved by the executive.
The issue was resolved with an agreement on language as adopted under the joint statement at the 1st Formal Meeting of the Ad Hoc High Level Group in Solo, Indonesia June 20-22, 2011.
What is the stand of the GPH on the Tripartite Implementation Review?
The GPH position is that all the issues attending the Tripartite Implementation Review has already been resolved and that it is now the right time to complete the process and implement what will be agreed upon under the Tripartite Implementation Review framework.
When is the next tripartite meeting?
The Parties were scheduled to hold the 5th meeting of the GPH-OIC-MNLF Tripartite Review on the Implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) on September 16 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
However on September 13, the Philippine Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) received from the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia a Note Verbale concerning the postponement of the 5th Session of the GPH-OIC-MNLF Tripartite Implementation Review Meeting scheduled on 16 September 2013.
The formal communication conveyed a copy of the Note Verbale dated 12 September 2013, addressed to the OIC Secretary General from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, which serves as the Chair of the OIC-PCSP.
The said Note Verbale to the OIC Secretary General relayed the receipt of Indonesia of a letter from the Chair of the MNLF Secretariat requesting for the postponement of the Tripartite Meeting to a later date, preferably in the 1st week of October 2013. It stated that the request was made by MNLF Chair Nur Misuari due to the “situation in Zamboanga City.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs has accordingly conveyed to the Indonesian Embassy that the Government will respect the decision of the OIC-PCSP Chair.
What is the GPH’s reaction to the postponement of the tripartite review meeting?
The GPH considered it unfortunate that this opportunity for a face-to-face meeting that had been set precisely to discuss the status of the Tripartite Implementation review and the future of this peace process is yet again delayed.
The GPH conveyed to the Chair of the OIC-PCSP a concern that this meeting should not be indefinitely postponed.
Indonesia’s Note Verbale to the OIC Secretary General stated that the new schedule and venue of the Tripartite meeting will be communicated following consultations with both parties.
What were the Aquino administration’s initiatives to fulfill the Government’s commitments in the 1996 GPH-MNLF FPA?
Upon his assumption in office in 2010, President Aquino ordered to fast track the review of the remaining unresolved issues, and to continue the implementation process.
In the past three years, several technical working groups as well as an ad hoc high- level group--consisting of five representatives from the GPH and five representatives from MNLF and the participation of the OIC-PCSP – were created to find ways to reach mutually-acceptable solutions of the issues.
As part of the government’s commitment to the implementation of the 1996 FPA, mechanisms agreed upon by both the GPH and the MNLF were put in place for cooperation in the implementation of peace and development programs focused on MNLF communities:
• ARMM EO No. 9 s. 2012 establishing satellite offices in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (BaSulTa) to fast track delivery of basic social services
• ARMM EO No. 23 s. 2012 reconstituting the Joint Monitoring Committee and Renaming it as the Joint Peace and Development Monitoring Committee (JPDMC)
The ARMM government and the MNLF also signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for cooperation in the implementation of peace and development programs and projects in MNLF communities. The MOA was signed by Atty. Randolf Parcasio on behalf of MNLF Chair Nur Misuari and former ARMM Executive Secretary Atty. Anwar Malang.
In line with this MOA, the ARMM Regional Government took the initiative to convene 50 MNLF senior leaders on August 21 to September 1 to explore venues of partnership with the group in advancing development programs for MNLF communities through PAMANA. During the two-day meeting, the MNLF senior leaders affirmed their commitment to the 1996 Final Peace Agreement as well as partnership for peace and development.
The present administration also puts premium in uplifting the lives of the Moro communities in the ARMM. These programs include the P8.589-billion Transition and Investment Support Plan (TISP), and the P1.469-billion (2013 budget) Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA)-Peace and Development Communities. PAMANA in Muslim
Mindanao benefits mostly MNLF communities. As of this writing, 201 projects have already been turned over to MNLF PDCs with an allocation of P646.2 million (since 2011).
The establishment of a Bangsamoro Development Assistance Fund (BDAF) for Southern Philippines will be implemented upon approval of the OIC and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). BDAF is pursuant to the agreement of the GPH and the MNLF legal panels on May 30, 2010 in Surabaya, Indonesia.
Is there truth in Nur Misuari’s claims that the Philippine government terminated the 1996 FPA?
No. The Philippine government remains committed in pursuing the 1996 FPA with the MNLF. What the Philippine government wants is to finally complete the tripartite review process in order to proceed with the implementation of those items agreed upon during the review. In fact, the completion should be seen as another milestone in the 1996 FPA and an achievement of the GPH, the MNLF and the OIC as members of the tripartite review process.
Even the OIC Peace Committee on Southern Philippines (OIC-PCSP) strongly supports the request of the Philippine government for the completion of this process.
Is GPH terminating the 1996 FPA with the signing of the FAB and pursuing a comprehensive agreement with the MILF?
No. The GPH is not terminating the 1996 FPA. Rather, it is pushing for the completion of the Tripartite Review Process.
What is the impact of the FAB to the Tripartite Implementation Review?
We have always maintained that the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro is inclusive of all the concerns of the Bangsamoro. The crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law is not just an exercise for the MILF. It is an exercise that seeks to respond to and/or address the aspirations of the entire Bangsamoro.
Was the MNLF spurned while the Aquino government holds talks with the MILF?
It is not true that the Aquino government ignored the MNLF or Nur Misuari. In reality, Misuari wanted to be the OICARMM governor. The Zamboanga siege happened not because he was ignored, but because he was unhappy and the peace process cannot give him what he wants which is perpetual entitlement to the leadership of ARMM.
In fact, the Aquino government has made various efforts to ensure that the MNLF (both the Misuari and Sema factions) are on board the peace process with the MILF. The GPH has invited both Misuari and then Vice Mayor Sema directly and through the Indonesian facilitators to submit nominations for the Transition Commission (TC) in order for them to formally be included in this process. Both of them declined. Nevertheless, the government has ensured with the GPH members of the TC to consider the legislative agenda of the MNLF as inputs in the Bangsamoro Basic Law, specifically the 42 consensus points on amendments to RA 9054.
All the existing factions in the MNLF are engaged by the government through consultations and socio-economic interventions especially in Moro communities in Mindanao. Several agreements were also achieved to strengthen the partnerships between the government and the MNLF such as the Solo agreement in 2011, where both sides agreed to jointly work in reforming the ARMM.
The ARMM Regional Government has likewise inked several agreements with the MNLF leaderships in the establishment of peace and development monitoring mechanisms in the implementation of programs and projects focused on peace- building initiatives in MNLF communities.
MNLF leaders also play a major role in the implementation of various socio- economic programs in their communities. Their primary task is to identify the communities and development needs.
What is the impact of Nur Misuari’s alleged declaration of an independent “Bangsamoro Republik” to the government’s peace initiatives in Mindanao?
Nur Misuari’s action is not only counter-productive to the achievements of the 1996 FPA and the Tripartite Implementation Review Process, but also jeopardizes the peace process in Mindanao.
His pronouncements provide “misunderstanding and misrepresentation of what is the reality” and sow confusion and apprehension among the people who have long been caught in conflict.
What was OPAPP’s reaction to the September 9 attack staged by the MNLF Misuari group in Zamboanga City?
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process has called for calm and sobriety and appeals to the people to support and pray for the peaceful resolution of this conflict. The government is doing its best to restore peace and order in Zamboanga City and bring justice to the perpetrators of atrocities.
It remains committed to resolving the Mindanao conflict through inclusive dialogue and formal peace negotiations. OPAPP with the DFA has been conducting close consultations with Indonesia as Chair of PCSP regarding the latest development, and in light of the planned Tripartite meeting, which was postponed upon request of Nur Misuari through the MNLF Secretariat.
How will the September 9 MNLF attack in Zamboanga City impact on the ongoing GPH-MILF peace negotiations?
The attacks perpetrated by the MNLF Misuari group will not in any way hamper the efforts of the government and the MILF to complete the remaining annexes on power sharing and normalization and forge a Comprehensive Agreement within the year. The 40th Formal GPH-MILF Exploratory Talks continues in Kuala Lumpur.
During the Opening Ceremony of the peace negotiations, the parties issued a joint statement condemning the violence in Zamboanga City and affirming their commitment “to pursuing the peace process to its just and rightful conclusion, in the belief that it is through partnership that institutions reflective of the true needs and aspirations of the Bangsamoro and other peoples of Mindanao shall be installed.”
What were the actions of the OIC-PCSP in response to the Zamboanga crisis?
GPH was the one who asked Indonesia to open their communication lines to assist in finding a peaceful resolution to the Zamboanga incident to which they agreed and accordingly gave instructions to their embassy here. Embassy officials explained to us that this meant that their lines would be open to receive and transmit messages from one side to the other but that they did not see it to be within their role to proactively make a call to either side.
Did the GPH ask for the OIC-PCSP’s intervention to help resolve the Zamboanga crisis?
We relayed to Indonesia last Tuesday (Sept. 10) and to the entire OIC peace committee last Thursday (Sept. 12) our request if they could help in any way in resolving the situation. None of the eight countries present offered a proposal.
We understand from Indonesia that in the several times they received a message from the Misuari group last week, the only topic they raised was regarding travel arrangements to attend the meeting in Yogyakarta, until they asked for postponement of meeting last Thursday. In response to our inquiry, they clarified that the Misuari group never asked or offered to talk about resolving the crisis in Zamboanga.
What actions has OPAPP undertaken to help resolve the crisis in Zamboanga?
OPAPP has been coordinating with various groups and providing advice and assistance on the ground to help put a peaceful end to the internal conflict in Zamboanga.
Since violence erupted on Sept. 9, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles has been in touch with Malacañang, Indonesian Embassy and the OIC-PCSP. OPAPP Undersecretary Jose Lorena, on the other hand, has been closely coordinating with the Crisis Management Committee, which is chaired by Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Since last week, he’s been meeting with various MNLF leaders to convince remaining members of the Misuari-led MNLF forces not to reinforce their comrades in Zamboanga and neighboring provinces of Sulu and Basilan.
Among the MNLF leaders he has met were Muslimin Sema, head of another MNLF faction; Abdul “Kong” Sahrin, secretary general of the MNLF central committee; Edmund Gumbahali, president of the Panglima Hawani Foundation; Yusoph Jikiri, former Sulu governor and MNLF commander; Abi Bakrin Lukman, member of the Council of 15; Abdul Gadjir Ismael, senior officer; Abuo Amri Tadick, deputy chief of staff for political affairs; Rasul Razdy, chief of staff for administration; and Sampang Kursid.
OPAPP is there as a resource, not as head of the crisis committee since the crisis is a detailed security situation in which the agency has no competence to address.
OPAPP’s work is negotiated political settlement. When a crisis like this happens, political discussions are out of the question as government cannot negotiate when a gun is being pointed at it.
The government should protect the peace process. As Secretary Deles puts it, “You bring it out of the line of fire because you need the negotiating table for the more long-term negotiations and that is what we have been focusing on.”