Legislators’ role in peace talks process underscored | mb.com.ph | Philippine News
Home  » Latest News

Legislators’ role in peace talks process underscored

OSLO, Norway – To avoid the dismal fate that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) met in Congress, the House should be made part of discussions before any agreement should be reached between the Philippine Government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF).

Bai Sandra Sema (Manila Bulletin photo by Rocky Nazareno)

Bai Sandra Sema (Manila Bulletin photo by Rocky Nazareno)

This was asserted by Deputy Speaker for Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Bai Sandra Sema and lawmakers from the House Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity were briefed by GRP Peace Panel member Angela Librado-Trinidad on the progress of the GRP-NDF talks, the second round of which started here Thursday.

“We want to be part of it, even in the talking stage. Para hindi mabigla ang mga tao (So that the people won’t be taken aback points that will be agreed upon),” the Maguindanao congresswoman told mediamen after the briefing at the Holmen Fjordhotel.

Sema pointed out that the failure of the government panel, which entered into an agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), to conduct consultations with Congress before a final Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was signed, proved fatal for the BBL.

She also averred that “the lack of transparency and inclusivity” led to the failure of the peace deal of the Colombian government with FARC rebels which was disapproved in a referendum.

Sema was accompanied by House Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Chairperson Rep. Ruby Sahail (Tawi Tawi), Vice Chairperson Rep. Jesus Sacdalan (North Cotabato), Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna), Rep. Nancy Catamco (Kidapawan), and Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil (Pangasinan).

Sema explained that one of the reasons why the BBL failed to pass in Congress was “because they just delivered to us a final copy, when everybody wanted a more inclusive and transparent law.”

“The people must own the (peace) process. This time, we want to be a part of it,” she said.

According to Sema, they would be making a request for Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza and GRP Peace Panel Chairperson Silvestre Bello III to give the 14 Deputy Speakers of the Lower House a similar briefing “so that they can resolve to really support the process.”

The lady solon underscored that a deeper understanding of the peace process would be needed by the lawmakers should they be finally confronted with the task of concurring in the general amnesty that could be granted to members of the communist group, as well as in laying down the foundations for socio-economic reforms, which is considered the backbone of the peace talks.

In fact, Sema said her group has already been observing “how the two panels have come together, walking and talking peace like President Duterte.”

“If that continues to be the case, I do not see any problem (with Congress concurring with a general amnesty that would be endorsed by Duterte),” she said.

Sema also noted how “a paradigm shift” has become more in the ongoing peace talks, which failed for numerous times in five previous administrations, given the commitment of Duterte.

“(The talks) are no longer about military solutions. We are now in such areas like the CACER (Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms) where previous talks never got to,” she said.

(Manila Bulletin photo by Rocky Nazareno)

Briefing with the Philippine peace panel member Angela Library Trinidad (Manila Bulletin photo by Rocky Nazareno)