What await the Peoples of Southern Philippines
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With the expected comprehensive peace compact between the GPH and the MILF sometime in January 2013, there are high hopes for yet another experiment in self-rule that is MILF-led. Early in 2013, the Transitional Commission (TC) will start shaping the "charter" or Bangsamoro Basic Law. Executive Order 120 creating the TC came out before the year 2012 ended, although the composition of the 15-member commission remains the subject of speculation. Seven members are GPH nominees, while the remaining eight members including the Chair are MILF nominees.
The Basic Law would be the Organic Act that would govern the emerging Bangsamoro New Political Entity, that would take the place of the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, sometime in 2015 after ratification in a plebiscite called for the purpose.
The major challenge that remains is the completion of the four crucial “ANNEXES” to the October 15th Framework Agreement between the GPH and the MILF. The four annexes cover the broad issues on power sharing, wealth sharing, transitional period and structure and normalization. As earlier contemplated, the four annexes should have been completed before the year ended, but to date, the two panels continue to iron out the kinks which leave people under some sort of "suspended animation." Any delay in the four annexes also affects the timeline of the agreed final arrangements.
The delay in the delivery of the four crucial annexes makes people suspect that the early issuance of the EO 120 creating the TC is, simply, to hold the enthusiasm generated by the signing of the Framework Agreement and to deflect people’s focus away from the four important annexes that should have been "delivered" by yearend.
The Framework Agreement and the four annexes constitute the Comprehensive Peace Compact. These are the major inputs to the TC that would draft the Basic Law. In a real sense, the four annexes are the meat of the Framework Agreement. Without them, the TC would have nothing substantial to do.
The second event that awaits the ARMM is the 2013 Elections, which, to moribund offices and structures would no doubt become an exercise in futility. Under RA 9054 and the ill-concocted Synchronization Law or RA 10153, the winners would serve for three years, that is, from 2013 to 2016. The term of office of the elected officials in 2013 would collide with the establishment of the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority (BTA) either in late 2014 or early 2015. According to the Framework Agreement, the BTA would supplant the ARMM after the ratification of the Basic Law. The basic question that will emerge is whether the Basic Law would prevail over the direct mandate of the sovereign people in the ARMM, who elected the officials for a term of three years, or be set aside until 2016.
Sometime also in 2013, Congress will receive the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law and as per agreement, the President would certify it as a priority bill. The real issue here would be the behavior of the members of both the House and the Senate vis-à-vis the draft Basic Law.
If precedents are the basis for predicting the behavior of Congress, there seems not much hope that Congress would be faithful to the draft bill.
During the long years of President Marcos, his Batasan Pambansa produced "legislation" creating two autonomous regions that were totally different from the provisions in the 1976 Tripoli Peace Agreement.
During the time of President Cory Aquino, Congress set aside the work of the Regional Consultative Commission and produced an Organic Act or RA 6734 that created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
In "legislating" the 1996 Final Peace Accord between GRP and MNLF, Congress under three Presidents (President Ramos, President Estrada and President Macapagal-Arroyo) produced the amendment known as RA 9054, the present Organic Act that governs the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (which according to both the GPH and MILF is a "failed experiment" and is "unacceptable").
In all the cited instances above, Congress is NOT faithful in following the peace agreements. The members of Congress think and believe that they exercise plenary powers in legislation and they would NOT accept any dictation from any direction. In short, Congress remains a wild card in 2013. The Constitutional "default" mode in making the peace agreements legal instrument is through legislation by Congress.