Mindanao solon bats for review of 1996 RP-MNLF peace agreement

September 12, 2010 11:35 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Sept. 12 — A lawmaker from Mindanao has called for a review of the 1996 Peace Agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in a bid to come up with a more lasting solution to the decades old Mindanao conflict.

Maguindanao Rep. Bai Sandra Sema, in a privilege speech, said the signing of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement ushered in an epoch of hope that the blessings of peace and development will start to radiate in the conflict-stricken areas in the Southern Philippines.

Sema said the peace agreement aims to lay down the groundwork and implement the 1976 Tripoli Agreement to put an end to the Mindanao conflict.

"The partnership was very promising at the start between the MNLF and the government which gave way to the materialization and establishment of the Special Zone for Peace and Development (SZOPAD) and the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD)," she said.

Sema said the era of hope was short-lived when the Philippine government proceeded to unilaterally craft the institutional reforms mandated by the 1996 Peace Agreement.

"The Autonomous Regional Government started to whine the inadequacy of the fiscal support from the central government and in 2001, proposed and obtained the enactment of amendments to the Organic Act of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)," she said.

Sema said the government has divested the MNLF of its two major wings for peace and development — the Autonomous Regional Government and the SPCPD.

"This development delivered a major blow on the morale of the MNLF and seriously brought into question the sincerity of the Philippine government in the implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement," she said.

Sema said MNLF organs and leaders of the various revolutionary committees were at a loss as to how to respond to the situation because it became apparent that the leverage of the MNLF was marginally displaced.

"Instead of obtaining and benefiting from peace and development promised by the 1996 Final Peace Agreement, people continue to slide down and be strapped in the shackle of poverty, lawlessness, misery and hopelessness. The autonomous region never saw the light of lasting peace and sustainable development and ARMM is neither peaceful nor developed," she said.

Sema said the Bangsamoro people continued to pursue the path of peace and stayed faithful and truthful to such fortitude.

"It continued to uphold the virtues of fidelity and devotion to the path of peace," she said.

"The government must continue with the implementation of the 1996 final Peace Agreement and must revisit once again what it has agreed with MNLF in 1996," she said. (PNA)



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