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GRP – MILF NEGOTIATIONS

Lessons Learned, Challenges, and


Ways Forward

Abhoud Syed M. Lingga


Institute of Bangsamoro Studies

The Waging Peace in the Philippines Conference of 2006 –


Twenty Years of Waging Peace in the Philippines -
Learning Lessons for Policy and Practice
December 5-6, 2006
GRP-MILF Formal Talks
• Negotiations to solve the Mindanao problem were
confined with the MNLF before the 1996 Peace Accord.
• Contacts between the GRP and the MILF were at the
informal level.
• August 3, 1996, Sec. Ruben Torres met MILF vice chair
for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar in Davao City.
• Another meeting was held in Cagayan de Oro City on
Sept. 9-10, 1996 where issues on cessation of hostilities
and creation of technical committees to draw talking
points and guidelines of ceasefire were discussed.
• Jan. 7, 1997, first meeting of the technical committees of
GRP and MILF Peace panels. The start of the formal
negotiations.
GRP and MILF recognize
• The need for comprehensive, just and lasting political
settlement of the conflict in Mindanao through
negotiations.
• That the “peace negotiations between the GRP and
MILF is for the advancement of the the general interest
of the Bangsamoro people and other indigenous people”.
• “The negotiation and peaceful resolution of the conflict
must involve consultations with the Bangsamoro people
free of any imposition”.
• The “Bangsamoro people’s fundamental right to
determine their own future and political status.”
• “…respect for the identity, culture and aspirations of all
peoples of Mindanao.”
Agenda
1. Security
2. Humanitarian, rehabilitation and
development of conflict-affected
areas
3. Ancestral domain
Agreements
1. Security Aspects

• Implementation of ceasefire agreements


• Acknowledgment of MILF Camps
• Isolation and interdiction of criminal elements
• Setting up of mechanism –
– GRP and MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of
Hostilities (CCCH)
– Local Monitoring Team (LMT)
– International Monitoring Team
• Malaysia
• Brunei
• Libya
• Japan (Socio-economic)
– Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG)
Agreements
2. Humanitarian, rehabilitation and development of
conflict-affected areas

• Return and rehabilitation of evacuees


• Establish of MILF project implementing body –
Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA)
• Reparation
• Respect for human rights and observance of
international humanitarian laws
• Bangsamoro Leadership and Management
Institute - capacity building center for Moro
leaders and professionals
Agreements
3. Ancestral Domain
• Discussions divided into four strands
– Concept
– Territory
– Resources
– Governance
• Consensus were reached on many issues in the
four strands
• There was an empasse during the 13th
exploratory talks on the issue of territory
Lessons Learned
• Incremental approach to the negotiations is very
helpful
• Involvement of third party is valuable to bring
together conflicting parties to talk peace and to
break deadlock. The third party must have the
creativity and credibility.
• The presence of the IMT has reduced
significantly armed confrontations between the
BIAF and the AFP.
Challenges
• Spoliers
• Lack of coherent voices from national and
local governments
• Issue of terrorism
Way Forward
• There is need for both parties to observe unwritten
agreements. The empasse was triggered by GRP
proposal that the issue at hand should be subject to
constitutional process - a violation of the unwritten
agreement that the GRP shall not raise in the
negotiations constitutional issues, Philippine sovereignty
and territorial integrity; on the other hand the MILF shall
not raise the issue of independence.
• There is need for creative and innovative approach to
address sovereignty-based conflicts.
– Recognition of the Bangsamoro right of self-determination
– Referendum to determine their political status
• The Government has to exercise strong political will to
reign in oppositors from all branches of governments
(including the local governmetn units).
Way Forward

• The peace process does not end in the


signing of peace agreement. Equally
important is the faithful implementation of
the provisions of the agreement. The
parties should agree on
– road map of implementation
– benchmarks to guide parties
– presence of international third party monitors