Closing Remarks of GPH panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer at the Ceremonial Opening of the Transition Commission
According to the book “Democracy and Deep-Rooted Conflict: Options for Negotiators” published in 1998 by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance based in Stockholm:
“If a process is designed that is not appropriate to the context, then it is defeated before it begins.”
Well, friends, we have long begun. We have moved forward. We have faced many challenges. We have not been defeated. And now there are more of us to continue this process.
As we know, the Negotiating Panels will complete the Annexes that together with the Frame Agreement will comprise the Comprehensive Agreement.
It is the Transition Commission that will primarily carry the peace process to the next stage leading to the establishment of the new Bangsamoro political entity.
And so, in behalf of the GPH and MILF Negotiating Panels, I congratulate the 15 men and women of the Transition Commission.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Transition Commission is now fully open for business.
Allow me in these remarks to draw some more quotes from the same book to serve as inspiration and insights to our honorable commissioners.
According to the book: “Appropriately crafted democratic institutions are crucial to the sustainability of any negotiated settlement.”
This line best sums up the challenge to the 15 men and women of the TC.
How would such “appropriately crafted democratic institutions” look like in this context?
I tried to imagine how the Bangsamoro political entity would look like using no other than the letters GPH-MILF as guidepost.
I am pleased to note the similarities that Chairman Iqbal came up with his 10-points on the TC. This only shows how strong the meeting of minds and spirit are now between the government and the MILF.
The first letter G will have to stand of course for good governance, in this instance, under a ministerial form of government. We await with excitement how the TC will bring life to this notion and ideal.
P - is for political parties with platforms, not just personalities. In a ministerial form of government, political parties are essential to the formation of government. The Bangsamoro Basic Law will have to provide for the appropriate political party and electoral system of the Bangsamoro.
H - has to be for human rights which are the necessary foundation of genuine peace. The FAB provides us with a reiteration of these essential human rights and certainly we should find all these again in the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
M - stands for the various mechanisms with which to effect and implement shared governance, and indeed the Framework Agreement and Annexes call for the establishment of several mechanisms such as: the intergovernmental fiscal policy board, intergovernmental sustainable development body, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, transitional justice and reconciliation bodies, and an economic planning and development body.
I - is for inclusive institutions and practices: in this regard, the biggest challenge is to provide for a legislative assembly that is truly representative, certainly much, much more inclusive than what we now find in the Philippine Congress (no offense meant to the legislators present here).
L - stands for leadership, because institutions are ran by people and even good institutions can fail miserably in the hands of wrong leaders. During the transition period, the mettle of leadership of the MILF will be put to test, and insha’llah they will pass the test.
F - for fiscal autonomy for as we know, political autonomy cannot be real without self-reliance and the freedom to plan and manage one’s own house. Fiscal autonomy and national government support should provide the Bangsamoro with the resources to deliver the basic services, spur jobs and economic development for the betterment and deep sense of wellbeing of the peoples in the Bangsamoro.
There you are: GPH-MILF.
Now let me beg your indulgence with two other quotable quotes in the book that are too good not to mention here for our inspiration even only as part of closing remarks.
Quote: “The degree of transparency, accountability and participation provide three crucial benchmarks to evaluate the continuing health of a settlement.”
In this quotation, we are reminded of the importance of the process and not just the outcome. This is a message already expounded by Chairman Iqbal in his opening speech. To repeat: “The degree of transparency, accountability and participation provide three crucial benchmarks to evaluate the continuing health of a settlement.”
And finally for the last quote:
“The overriding determinant of whether a peace agreement will endure is the extent to which the parties to the conflict continue to be motivated to avoid a return to bloodshed.”
This citation I think is the most fitting way to end this ceremony.
It reminds us of why we are all here in the first place: to find peace, to build peace, to put an end to violence in politics. And to make politics truly of service to the just aspirations of the peoples in the Bangsamoro.
Sukran. Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat.