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President Duterte signs EO for the creation of expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed on Monday, November 7, an executive order establishing an expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), the body tasked to draft an enabling law that will serve as the legal foundation of the future Bangsamoro government in Mindanao.
Among those who graced the signing ceremony were Secretary Jesus G. Dureza, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, and other members of the Cabinet; MILF Chairman Al Haj Ebrahim Murad and members of the MILF Central Committee; GPH Implementing Panel Chair Irene M. Santiago; MILF Implementing Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal; Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, and other distinguished guests.
As President Rodrigo R. Duterte has directed that the Mindanao peace process be inclusive, the Executive Order will expand the BTC from 15 to 21 members. Eleven members, including the BTC Chair, will come from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and 10 will be nominated by the government. Santiago said that the government nominees were “a diverse group selected on the basis of their proven capacity to listen to many voices”.
President Duterte has also directed that since there is only one Bangsamoro, the provisions not yet implemented in the 1996 agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the MILF be consolidated into one enabling law.
In view of this, the government has agreed to include among its nominees three members from the MNLF. Secretary Dureza has announced that the government will also talk to a five-person panel to be formed by MNLF founding Chair Nur Misuari. According to Dureza, the President caused the suspension of hearings and enforcement of warrants of arrest against Misuari so he could participate in the peace process.
Significant stakeholders such as the Sultanates, indigenous peoples, local government units, women, youth, sectoral groups, and others will be able to participate in the peace process starting this month, Santiago announced, through People’s Peace Tables to be formed in various parts of the country. “People will sit at the table, too. It is not only the representatives of the government, the MNLF and the MILF that have a place at the table.” Santiago said.
“Peace is everyone’s concern so we must have a venue like the peace tables where people’s voices can be heard and taken seriously. Peace tables will also be tables for healing and reconciliation among our people because peacebuilding is more than passing a law, as important as that is. It is also about feelings of being included and respected and about building relationships.” According to Santiago, the BTC is expected to submit the draft law to Congress in the middle of next year.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.