Modern Urban Combat Tactic .... door to door with the assistance of a sniper squad.
if they had a thermal scope, they could have taken out the bandits even during nighttime.
kung apache .... wala kang planong isagip yun hostage.
We take a look back to reflect and celebrate the best stories in the UAAP that happened in the past year.read more
Check out photos from each game of the PBA Philippine Cup Semis here!read more
Join the Call Center promo and get a chance to win Pizza Inc Gift Certificates!read more
The results are finally here! Find out who won the hearts of the PinoyExchange community in The Best of 2014: PExers Choice Awards!read more
'tis the season of gifts and wishlists! JPM plays Santa's consultant and lists down the best Christmas gift for each PBA team.read more
Modern Urban Combat Tactic .... door to door with the assistance of a sniper squad.
if they had a thermal scope, they could have taken out the bandits even during nighttime.
kung apache .... wala kang planong isagip yun hostage.
for a study on the Bangsamoro problem, the report below -prepared/supported/funded by The Mindanao Think Tank /Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue /European Commission- is as good as it gets.
please read, to have some background as to why the Zamboanga incident came to be.
the report was originally in "pdf" which I have converted to a text file. images, charts, and slides were omitted in this posting. the report in its original form may be downloaded from: http://www.hdcentre.org/uploads/tx_n...ograph1bis.pdf
THE MINDANAO THINK TANK
RECOMMENDATIONS OF PROMINENT OBSERVERS OF THE PEACE PROCESS
TO THE NEW PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT
Table of Contents
Reading this Report
II. History, the Evolution of Conflict,
and the Peace Processes
III. An Overview of the Armed Conflict
from the Civil Society Perspective
IV. Putting an End to Hostilities - the GRP-MILF
Ceasefire Mechanisms and its Updates
V. Looking at a New Beginning: Recommendations to
the New Philippine President from
Prominent Observers to the Peace Process
The Mindanao Think Tank is supported by the
Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, and is
meant to contribute to addressing the need for
greater engagement between and among the
actors and stakeholders to the peace process
in Mindanao. This helps ensure that the peace process is
acceptable to the parties and as many of the stakeholders
as possible, and that it truly addresses the relevant issues
surrounding the conflict. In the first half of 2010, the
Mindanao Think Tank Project conducted several interviews
with prominent observers to the peace processes in
Mindanao to generate their recommendations for the new
For the HD Centre and the Mindanao Think Tank,
this is a very timely question to ask given the change in
administration from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III. As stakeholders
to the peace process, we have observed that amidst
the challenges faced by the peace processes during the
Arroyo Administration, the last year has seen a marked
improvement in their developments.
For the GRP-MILF
peace process, a ceasefire has put an end to a year of
hostilities ever since the failure of the Memorandum of
Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), mechanisms
to make the peace processes inclusive of the international
community were established through the International
Contact Group (ICG) and the return of the International
Monitoring Team (IMT), formal peace talks were
reconvened after over a year’s impasse, a Civilian Protection
Component (CPC) was added to the IMT, and there was
a real push for the forging of a Comprehensive Compact
(or final peace agreement) before the end of President
Arroyo’s term in office.
For the GRP-MNLF peace process,
the Tripartite Process with the Organization of the Islamic
Conference (OIC) has been active with efforts to implement
Republic Act 9054 governing the Autonomous Region in
Muslim Mindanao to make it more consistent with the 1996
GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement, the setting up of a
new development body and the securing of additional OIC
development funds for Mindanao, and the establishment of
a tripartite implementation and monitoring mechanism.
What is hoped for is that the Aquino Administration will
continue with the various gains of the peace processes. As
will be seen in this report, while most of the prominent
observers agree with this aspiration, others see things quite
Reading this Report
This Report consists of five parts:
“Part I. Introduction”;
“Part II. History, the Evolution of Conflict, and the Peace
Processes”, wherein a brief overview of the conflict and
of the two main peace processes between the Philippine
Government and the MNLF and MILF, respectively, are
“Part III. Overview of the Armed Conflict form the Civil
Society Perspective” is a presentation delivered by Ustadz
Esmail Ebrahim. It adds to the discussion in Part II by
showing relevant cost figures and effects of the prolonged
conflict in Mindanao.
“Part IV. Putting an End to Hostilities - The GRP-MILF
Ceasefire Mechanism and its Updates” is a presentation
delivered by the Head of Secretariat of the GRP
Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities,
Major Carlos Sol Jr. It illustrates one of the successes in the
peace efforts between the conflicting parties, and projects a
ray of hope in the peace process.
Finally, “Part V. Looking at a New Beginning:
Recommendations to the New Philippine President from
Prominent Observers to the Peace Process” gives the main
results of interviews conducted with eight prominent
observers to the peace process.
II. History, the Evolution of Conflict,
and the Peace Processes
A lot has been written and said about the
conflict in Mindanao. Many are said to have
benefited when vast, fertile lands were opened
up for them to cultivate. Others who weren’t
so lucky struggled against what they saw as
unjust state policies that pushed them further and further
away from infrastructure and development, and deeper
and deeper into marginalization and poverty.
breached the tipping point rebelled, only to be pacified by
peace overtures and the promise of an end to fighting, with
structural changes that would correct the wrongs and heal
Those who continued to resist persisted with
their fight saying what has been given was either not enough
or was simply not the solution.
While there were those
who felt marginalized and disenfranchised, there too were
those who fought to keep what for them has for decades
been home and their only source of livelihood.
this took place, to-date over one hundred thousand lives are
said to have been lost and millions have suffered war and
displacement. Indeed, conflicts are complex. They are deep
rooted, multi-faceted and very challenging to resolve. The
conflict in Mindanao is no exception.
While the organized Moro rebellions started only in the late
1960s with the Nur Misuari led Moro National Liberation
Front, the Mindanao conflict took root long before that
during the colonial period when the Spanish followed by
the American colonial authorities sought to subdue the
remaining frontiers of the archipelago that stubbornly
fought off the colonizers.
Much later during the Philippine
Republic, National Government land redistribution policies
in the post-war period encouraged settlement by Filipinos
from Luzon and the Visayas into the rich uninhabited
lands of Mindanao. Through the years these settlements
benefitted from various programs and projects from
Government aimed at growth and development.
the settlers prospered and their areas developed, while the
original inhabitants, the Lumads (indigenous peoples) and
the Moros (Islamized indigenous peoples) remained as they
have been for centuries and failed to keep pace with their
settler neighbors and the rest of the modernizing world.
First, their areas weren’t prioritized for government
projects rendering their areas less productive and with less
opportunity to tap into and benefit from the mainstream
Second, war and displacement throughout
AFP-MNLF fighting (at its height from the late 1960s to the mid
1970s), AFP-MILF fighting (at its most vicious in the late
1990s to recently), and the intermittent activities of the
Abu Sayyaf and other extremist groups resulted in further
poverty and hopelessness in the conflict-affected areas.
With their areas progressing and prosperous, it wasn’t
long before the number of settlers boomed with natural
population increases and with added migration. Eventually
Christian settlers had surpassed in number the original
inhabitants (both Lumad and Moro) who became the
minority in areas they once controlled. In addition, not
only were they marginalized in the state’s national political
landscape, in their own areas of Mindanao, their social,
political and economic structures were almost thoroughly
replaced by those of the centralized republican Philippine
While the more economically, socially, and politically
astute of the Lumads and Moros did not find difficulty in
filling up the new roles in the new structures, there were
those – especially among the Moros – who could not and
did not want to. Time dragged on and marginalization
was seen in terms of oppression and discrimination,
dispossession (of lands) and militarization. All it took were
sparks that would ignite the fire. Revolution was drawing
And so it did. From the late 1960s to the
mid 1970s the Moro National Liberation
Front fought the Armed Forces of the
Philippines to a stalemate. It wasn’t until
the government of President Ferdinand
Marcos utilized diplomacy with Libya and the rest of the
Muslim world that the MNLF was ‘persuaded’ to enter
into the 1976 Tripoli Agreement that essentially dropped
the quest for independence for autonomy and greater
It would not be until twenty years and two
Presidents later that the 1976 accord would be finalized
into the 1996 Final Peace Agreement after autonomy had
already been practiced in the concerned areas of Muslim
Mindanao for a decade. This was the approach to resolve
the Government’s conflict with the MNLF – grant them
The 1996 GRP-MNLF accord officially ended the three
decade struggle. Estimates had the war claiming over
120,000 lives, displacing millions, and costing the
Government over USD 3 billion since it began in the
1970s. However, fourteen years later, the implementation
of the 1996 agreement still remains an unresolved question
between those who argue that the job has been done, and
those who assert otherwise.
The 1996 agreement contains two major sections.
Phase I is a 3-year transitional period which established the
Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development
(SPCPD) and an SPCPD Constituent Assembly (both in
preparation for the new Autonomous Region in Muslim
Mindanao, or ARMM); a massive program of socioeconomic
development for the region encompassed in the
Southern Zone of Peace and Development (SZOPAD); the
integration of MNLF forces into the AFP and the Philippine
National Police; and the delivery of socio-economic
services, formation into a Special Regional Security Force,
and accommodation into Government positions political
leaders of the MNLF including the post of Regional
Governor for Chairman Nur Misuari.
Phase I effectively lasted from 1996 to 2001. These were the
last six years wherein the ARMM was still defined under
the old Autonomy Law, Republic Act 6734. The Ramos
government ‘anointed’ MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari to
run in the 1996 ARMM Elections as official Administration
Party bet, which led to an automatic victory at the polls as
Regional Governor. In addition, Misuari was appointed
to lead the SPCPD while the new Autonomy Law was still
being crafted in the Philippine Congress. Simultaneously,
5750 MNLF members were integrated into the AFP and
1500 into the PNP. The integration process was likewise
headed by appointed MNLF leaders tasked with the
enlistment and processing of interested MNLF members for
submission to the AFP and PNP for further processing.
Implementation, however, failed miserably and many
Muslim areas under the ARMM have regressed while
Christian areas surrounding the ARMM have thrived. The
ARMM Government under Misuari was characterized by
massive excessive spending, far too many absences from
the seat of the ARMM in Cotabato City, and a general
inefficiency and inability to deliver basic services.
In response, the MNLF cited the GRP’s failure to deliver its
commitments as provided by the 1996 agreement: it gave
no special funds for the ARMM and the transitory bodies,
it relied wholly on donor-assisted projects, it provided
regular appropriations to the ARMM that were only
sufficient for personnel salaries, and it pursued projects in
its normal course of Government work – not as part of the
implementation of the 1996 agreement. Observers say the
only semblance of implementation was in the Integration
program. However, MNLF leaders spearheading this have
been said to have ‘sold’ slots to MNLF members and even
outsiders and the MNLF still retains a large armed wing,
which retains command structures and resides in ‘camps’.
The situation went from bad to worse during Phase II of
the 1996 agreement. This began in 2001 with the enactment
of Republic Act 9054, the new Autonomy Law to update
the old autonomy law to make the ARMM consistent
with the provisions of the 1996 GRP-MNLF Final Peace
The process began with a plebiscite to ratify the
new ARMM law in the area of autonomy, and to allow new
provinces to join. However, the MNLF argued they were
not consulted on the plebiscite.
RA 9054 was accepted as
the new Autonomy Law, and in addition to the provinces
of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi that
had already previously opted to join the ARMM prior to the
1996 agreement, Basilan province (except for Isabela City)
and Marawi City voted to join.
The new ARMM was in place, ushering in Phase II.
However, the new autonomous
region failed to live up to the promises of the 1996
agreement, and the ARMM has been widely
criticized as a huge failure on how to exercise autonomy.
This, even though a second senior MNLF leader, Foreign
Affairs Chief Parouk Hussin, was anointed by the
Government to run as administration Party bet, and was
easily elected as ARMM Regional Governor from 2001 to
Today, fourteen years after the forging of the 1996 Final
Peace Agreement, and nine years since the new Autonomy
Law came into effect, the MNLF continues to remain
clamouring for the full implementation of the 1996
agreement (the law omits many key components of the 1996
agreement and the autonomous government remains largely
inactive), many former MNLF fighters complain that they
never had the chance to be integrated nor even received
livelihood projects, a number of MNLF communities
especially in Sulu province continue to maintain arms and
military command structures, the MNLF organization
has experienced deep divisions in the movement, the
Abu Sayyaf Group has risen and causes great insecurity
in parts of Sulu and Basilan provinces, and the lives of
the Bangsamoro in the ARMM have been characterized
by poverty, underdevelopment, poor governance and
For the past three years, an official GRP-MNLF-OIC
Tripartite Process has been in place to review the
implementation of the 1996 agreement. One of the sparks
that lead to this was a series of five informal rounds of talks
brokered in 2005 by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue
that brought then Presidential Adviser on the Peace
Process Teresita Quintos-Deles and MNLF representatives
appointed by Nur Misuari back to the negotiating table.
These talks were crucial because they provided at the time
the only venue whereby the status of Misuari’s incarceration,
the resurging MNLF-AFP hostilities in Sulu Province,
and a possible review of the implementation of the 1996
agreement were discussed.
All these efforts have gone a long way with Misuari now out
of prison and the official Tripartite Process in place. The
GRP-MNLF peace process is slowly getting back on track to
fulfilling the promises of the 1996 agreement. Towards the
end of the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the
GRP and MNLF inked a Memorandum of Understanding
that calls for transforming common proposals adopted
by the joint legal panels into legal form for action by the
Philippine Congress; the setting up of a new development
body and securing additional OIC development funds
for Mindanao; and the establishment of a tripartite
implementation and monitoring mechanism.
The GRP-MILF peace process began in 1997,
during the administration of President Fidel
Ramos, just a year after the forging of the
1996 agreement with the MNLF. However,
the process failed to gain momentum, and in
2000, then President Joseph Estrada launched an all-out
offensive against the MILF and took over Camp Abubakar
in the hinterlands of the boundary area between
Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur provinces, which was the
main MILF base.
After the ouster of President Estrada, in
2001 President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo re-established
the peace process with the MILF that resulted in the 2001
Tripoli Agreement on peace, which lay the framework
for the pursuit of peace talks between the Philippine
Government and the MILF. These covered the areas of
security, rehabilitation and development, and ancestral
In 2003, an agreement on the security aspect of the GRP
-MILF peace process was reached and a Cessation of
Hostilities agreement was forged with ceasefire mechanisms
put in place. In 2005, an agreement on the rehabilitation
and development aspect was reached and the Bangsamoro
Development Agency was established to begin donor
assisted projects even when a final agreement was still being
Throughout this entire period from the start
of the GRP-MILF peace process, efforts were extended to
forge ahead on the third and most difficult aspect of this
peace process, Ancestral Domain. However, as what has
been apparent, this has proven to be the most difficult and
In 2008, the GRP and MILF initialed the landmark
Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOAAD)
which set forth provisions for much greater territory
and autonomous control than was awarded to the MNLF
in the 1996 Agreement.
However, moments before the
signing ceremony in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, the Philippine
Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order
based on petitions by some Local Government officials
in Mindanao, including national legislators from the
Philippine Senate. The MOA-AD and the process of arriving
at the MOA-AD was later declared unconstitutional by
the Supreme Court. So, the agreement remains unsigned.
This led to a rampage by three MILF commanders
across predominantly Christian areas in Northern and
Central Mindanao, and the resulting fighting caused the
displacement of 650,000 people. All of these resulted in over
a year of impasse in the formal talks (from August 2008
to December 2009) and the pull-out of Malaysia from the
International Monitoring Team.
As a result of the Supreme Court decision and the ensuing
fighting both sides issued conditions that must be fulfilled
for the talks to continue. The GRP insisted that it would not
restart talks until the three ‘rogue’ MILF commanders were
arrested or killed and then also declared that it would need
to abide by the Supreme Court decision, could not accept
the MOA-AD, could not engage in any talks requiring a
constitutional change, and that any new talks must involve
DDR as a precondition. They also requested the removal
of the Malaysian facilitator from the talks citing his biases
(for the fourth time since 2006). For its part, the MILF
demanded the GRP respect the MOA–AD, retain Malaysia
as facilitator and agreed to international ‘guarantors’.
Following a number of interventions including those by
HD Centre with various ‘eminent persons’, the two parties
agreed to drop most of their conditionalities.
Just as the situation on the ground was at its most explosive,
both parties brought Mindanao back from the brink
and issued unilateral ceasefires in July 2009. They then
met informally in Kuala Lumpur under the auspices of
the Malaysian government and agreed to resume formal
talks and form an International Contact Group. They
also acknowledged the MOA –AD as an initialed but
unsigned document. In November, both parties identified
missions and NGOs for the International Contact Group
(ICG) which was designed to support the process and the
parties, especially the third party facilitator Malaysia and
to avoid a repeat of the failed MOA-AD and its devastating
In December 2009 the first round of the reconvened
GRP-MILF formal talks took place and immediately on
the agenda was the reestablishment of the International
Monitoring Team, with an additional component
establishing a civilian protection component to be run by
international and local NGOs which would monitor human
rights abuses. As the parties agreed that the upcoming
May 2010 national and local elections gave the process
an urgently tight schedule, an exchange of drafts for a
Comprehensive Compact (final peace agreement) was
planned for the next round of talks scheduled for January
On 27-28 January 2010 these talks took place and as
planned the parties exchanged draft text proposals for a
Comprehensive Compact. However, the talks collapsed over
wide differences in the each party’s text. The GRP proposal
was only focused on what the Executive could commit to
now (the Legislature was off session and they could not
propose a constitutional amendment). While the MILF put
forward a 40-plus page draft in which it was clear that it is
still looking at substance which is contained in the MOAAD
and the consensus points: Security, Rehabilitation and
For Ancestral Domain, this includes
the four strands of Concept, Territory, Governance and
Resources. Not surprisingly, the MILF still considers the
MOA-AD a done deal, ‘as good as an agreement’.
The MILF officially walked out of the talks but the ICG
and the Malaysian Facilitator were able to ensure that the
GRP at least reviewed and discussed the MILF proposal
and that both parties agree to another round of talks. The
GRP agreed to take the MILF proposal and identify which
parts could be done through executive action, which would
require legislative amendments and which would require
constitutional changes. They were open to discussing all of
In February, the Malaysian facilitator and the ICG
conducted shuttle diplomacy. While the GRP had indeed
followed through with their commitment to review the
MILF proposal, the MILF came up with a much more
modest ‘interim’ proposal. It was not a final agreement
but rather an outline of the transition period leading up
to the implementation of a final agreement. In March the
two parties and the ICG met in Kuala Lumpur to discuss
the MILF draft and while some of it was of bounds of the
GRP, the GRP did do a counter proposal along the same
lines, however this still failed to elicit an agreement by both
Looking at the vast differences in the positions of the GRP
and the MILF and the drawing to a close of the Arroyo
Administration, by April it had become clear that neither
a comprehensive compact nor an interim agreement was
attainable within the term of the President. But more
importantly, everyone thought that while little could be
expected, something could and should still be produced
to preserve the gains achieved and serve as a bridge to the
next administration. Ideas for an interim agreement, a
declaration of principles, and the formation of a Joint Task
Force to work on an interim agreement or transitional
administration were suggested.
As May passed and the results of the May 2010 Elections
became clear, the incoming Aquino presidency was widely
anticipated and observed. More and more focus was
put on the larger question as to whether his incoming
administration would continue the process where the
current administration has left off, “whether they would be
able and willing to negotiate a constitutional amendment
to accommodate the demands of the MILF, whether they
would be able and willing to reign in those opposed to the
process and whether the MILF will be able to control its
own fighters and ensure they become more representative of
all the Bangsamoro.”
Just before the end of President Arroyo’s term, the
Government Peace Panel and the MILF Panel declared
that they had “discussed points of consensus on an
Interim Agreement with a view of moving towards the
Comprehensive Compact to bring a negotiated political
settlement”. The Parties considered new formulas that
permanently respond to the legitimate aspirations of the
Bangsamoro people building on prior consensus points
achieved; consider new modalities to end the armed
hostilities; reframe the consensus points on Ancestral
Domain taking into account in particular the rights
of indigenous people; and incorporate in the compact
agreement the agreed upon texts and signed instruments
on the cessation of hostilities and security arrangements
guidelines, and development initiatives and rehabilitation.
III. An Overview of the Armed Conflict from the Civil Society
The following is a presentation delivered by Ustadz Esmael
Ebrahim, a member of the Mindanao Think Tank core
group, on two occassions. First during the MTT-assisted
GRP Peace Panel Consultations with Local Government
Chief Executives in February 2010 in General Santos City,
and second, during an MTT workshop and roundtable
discussion in February 2010, in Cotabato City.
This shows the cost of the ongoing armed conflict in
Mindanao, and potential benefits of seriously pursuing the
peace process in order to resolve it.
The Philippine government has been
engaged in war from late 60’s until the
signing of the Final Peace Agreement
with the Moro National Liberation Front
(MNLF) in 1996. The almost three decades
of fighting resulted in the death of more than
a hundred thousand people, of whom more
than half were MNLF Fighters, 30% were
government troops and almost 20% were
The approximated total amount
of government spending for the 26 years of
fighting was 73 billion Pesos or an average
of 24 million a year. If that huge amount
of money was spent in building schools,
roads, bridges, books for grade schoolers
and other livelihood programs in Mindanao,
a dramatic change could have already
Slide #3 shows the cost of war during the “All
Out War Policy” of former President Estrada.
The all out war cost the government more or
less 20 million Pesos a day or a total of 1.4
billion during the entire duration of the war.
The amount of damage to infrastructures,
from school buildings to markets to roads,
was estimated at 202 million Pesos. The
estimated damage to agriculture: rice, corn,
coconut and other crops was estimated at
125 million Pesos.
When President Estrada was removed from
the presidency, President Arroyo staged
another war. The war started during a
holy day for Muslims worldwide. This was
the Eid ul Adha, the second most special
holiday for Muslims. The Buliok offensives
cost the government another huge amount
of money. Aside from the huge amount of
military hardware used, there were about 47
million Pesos worth of agricultural products,
livestock and fisheries destroyed, and
130 million Pesos worth of infrastructure
damaged. The Buliok Offensive resulted in
nothing except a return to negotiations.
When the final signing of the MOA-AD
was aborted, skirmishes again erupted in
many parts of Mindanao. From August 4
to October 0f 2008, the total number of
casualties were 83 dead and 104 injured
from both the government troops and MILF
fighters. There were about 110,994 families
or 531,994 individuals who were displaced
by the war. There were 282 civilian housed
burnt, almost 48 million Pesos worth of
infrastructure and 142 million Pesos worth
of agricultural crops damaged. Although the
war started even before the aborted MOAAD
signing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this
resulted in damages to properties and loss of
The social costs of the Mindanao conflict are
Stuck in-between the warring government
forces and the MILF were innocent civilians
who would always have to leave their homes
every time an armed confrontation erupts.
In 2000, almost a million persons were
displaced by the “All-Out War”. Due to
the crackdown on the Abu Sayyaf on the
following year, some two hundred thousand
persons were displaced, mainly in Southern
Mindanao. The figure shot up again in 2003,
as a consequence of the Buliok Offensives.
According to the Human Development Report, in terms
of foregone investments, during major military operations
following the “All-Out War” and the subsequent Abu Sayyaf
atrocities, the investment growth rate plunged deeply from
positive seventeen percent to negative five percent from
2000 to 2001. Investments still shied away from the region
after the war as the investment rate was not able to recover
from the deficit as of 2002; worse, it slid again in 2003,
when the Buliok Offensives occurred.
Considering explicit and implicit economic losses, the
same report revealed that due to the Mindanao conflict,
we suffered losses ranging from P5 billion to P10 billion
annually from 1975 to 2002.
Since the above mechanisms were established, armed
skirmishes were reduced to negligible levels from 2004
to 2008. Also, please take note of the number of recorded
hostilities in 2002 and 2003.
The generally peaceful climate due to the reduction of
armed clashes encouraged more economic activities in the
previously conflict-affected areas, particularly in Regions
10, 11, 12 and the ARMM, all of which exhibited increasing
positive regional GDP growth rates from 2002 up to 2005,
After major clashes between the two
groups, the Government of the Republic
of the Philippines and the leadership of
Moro Islamic Liberation Front, under the
leadership of Chairman Ustadz Salamat
Hashim, advanced a political solution to
the conflict. This was the Tripoli Agreement
2, signed in Tripoli, Libya. There were
apprehensions from the two groups, but
the accord was signed in 2003.
The Tripoli Agreement has three (3) aspects.
1. The Security Aspect
2. The Humanitarian, Rehabilitation and
Development Aspect, and
3. The Ancestral Domain Aspect
Specifically, these three aspects of this
agreement are about:
1. The Security Aspect – constituting
agreements on the cessation of hostilities;
2. The Humanitarian, Rehabilitation and
Development Aspect – which embodies the
commitment of both sides to respect human
rights, and provide assistance, rehabilitation
and development to conflict-affected
3. The Ancestral Domain Aspect – which is
the focus of our present negotiations, and
discusses Bangsamoro critical issues relating
to Bangsamoro identity, rights, culture,
resources, traditional lands, etc.
It is hoped that the discussion on the 3
aspects of the talks, including the process
of the negotiations, will lead us to answer
the single talking point raised by the MILF
in 1997: “How to solve the Bangsamoro
IV. Putting an End to Hostilities– The GRP-MILF Ceasefire
Mechanisms and its Updates
Following is a presentation delivered by Major Carlos Sol
Jr of the Philippine Army, a regular invited participant
of the Mindanao Think Tank. Major Sol delivered this
presentation during an MTT workshop and roundtable
discussion in February 2010, in Cotabato City. (Please see
photo at left.)
V. Looking at a New Beginning:
Recommendations to the New Philippine President from
Prominent Observers of the Peace Process
The transition from the administration of
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to
that of President Benigno Simeon Aquino
III was as expected, preceded by a lot of
controversy. On the peace front, one of
the staunchest oppositionist of the MOA-AD insisted
that the GRP panel has already forged an “Interim
Agreement” with the MILF and demanded that this
be made public in his petition to the Supreme Court.
President Arroyo’s last secretary for the peace process,
Anabelle Abaya, had to give reassurances that there is
no secret agreement.
However, prospects for a smooth transition of the
peace negotiations are foreseen, with the winning of
local candidates in the region who are supportive of
the government’s peace initiatives. These are North
Cotabato Province’s new Governor, Lala Taliño Mendoza,
the two new representatives of the province
to Congress: Former Governor Jesus Sacdalan and
Nancy Catamco, and Maguindanao Province’s newly
Governor and Vice Governor – Ismael Mangudadatu
(whose wife, family members, lawyers, together
with journalists were murdered in the infamous
‘Maguindanao Massacre’) and Dustin Mastura (son
of MILF panel member Atty. Michael Mastura),
This has led Catholic priest Eliseo
Mercado Jr. of the Institute for Autonomy and
Governance to say that “We are optimistic these
newly-elected leaders will focus their utmost attention
and their political resources to activities that can
complement the GRP-MILF peace process and
Government’s peace initiatives with the Moro National
On the other hand, the overwhelming support
Former President Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada received in
Christian areas in Mindanao based on his ‘all out war’
sloganeering presage that the challenges will remain.
Furthermore, re-electionist mayoralty bets Celso
Lobregat of Zamboanga City and Lawrence Cruz of
Iligan City won in their respective cities. Lobregat
and Cruz were among the leading Christian Local
Government officials who led the petitions against the
signing of the controversial GRP-MILF Memorandum
of Agreement on Ancestral Domain in August 2008.
Hopefully the significant number of votes President
Aquino received nationally will give him the strength,
mandate and credibility to push the peace process
through where it needs to assuage the concerns and
fears of surrounding communities who may feel
threatened by a new agreement.
The MILF, through its Vice Chairman for Political
Affairs Ghazali Jaafar said that it is willing to resume
talks with the Aquino Administration and expressed
hope that the new government would abide by
previous agreements that the Arroyo Administration
entered into with the rebel group. In an interview with
the Mindanao Cross, a local newspaper, he said that
“We expect the incoming new government to open its
door for a peaceful and comprehensive settlement of
the Bangsamoro problem.” He believes that Aquino is
With this in mind, the Mindanao Think Tank
interviewed prominent observers regarding their
recommendations to the new president on the conduct
of the Peace Process. There were eight prominent
observers who were interviewed because of their in
depth knowledge of the peace process. These are:
• Fr. Eliseo Mercado Jr. – a Catholic priest
who heads the Institute for Autonomy and
Governance. Through the IAG, he has been
organizing symposia and round table discussions
aimed at assisting the members of the GRP and
MILF peace panels and those involved in the
negotiation clarify issues and find solutions to
• Dr. Ofelia Durante – an international
consultant in Peace Education who has been
active in the peace negotiations through the
Dialogue Mindanaw movement;
• Prof. Rudy Rodil – a professor of the Mindanao
State University who has thoroughly studied
the history of the Bangsamoro movement,
also a former panel member of the GRP peace
negotiating panel for talks with the MILF;
• Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga – an internationally
known consultant on the peace process, and
is the executive director of the Institute of
• Dr. Danda Juanday– a member of the board
of the Bangsamoro Development Council and
the executive director of the GRP-MILF created
Bangsamoro Development Agency tasked to
look after the humanitarian, rehabilitation, and
development aspect as agreed upon during the
• Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar – the head of
the political unit of the Moro Islamic Liberation
• Lt. Gen. Rodolfo Garcia AFP (ret) – the former
chairman of the GRP peace negotiating panel for
talks with the MILF
• Mayor Celso Lobregat – Mayor of Zamboanga
City and an outspoken critic of the MOA-AD.
There were five questions asked of the esteemed
1. What would be the ideal outcome of the
Mindanao Peace Process (GRP-MNLF and GRP-MILF)?
2. What would be a possible, realistic timeline for
3. To achieve these, what do you think the
incoming president and administration should
do or strive for?
4. What should be done to attain the best
possible transition between the outgoing
Arroyo Administration and the incoming
5. What can be the worst case scenario in the
Expected Outcome of the Peace Process:
The respondents were first asked what they feel is
the ideal outcome of the peace process.
All of the
respondents were of the same mind that the Final
Peace Agreement with the MNLF was a “failed
attempt” to solve the Bangsamoro problem.
Thus, for Fr. Mercado, the best outcome is the
consolidation of the two peace agreements.
The GRP-MILF agreement
should complement the first agreement (GRP-MNLF)
because we are talking about the same territory and
the same people.
According to Vice-Chair Jaafar “this
is one of the reasons why the MILF needs to negotiate
with the government to rectify errors and fill-in the
gaps and loopholes committed in the GRP-MNLF
Gen. Garcia also feels that “the maximum we
could hope for as far as the GRP-MNLF process is
concerned is for the shortfalls and deficiencies in the
implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement
to be addressed”.
However, he said that there has to
be an interface with what is going to be developed in
the results of the negotiations between the GRP and
“A future GRP-MILF agreement I think
should be able to achieve an agreement that would
be satisfactory to the Bangsamoro people in as far as
addressing their legitimate aspirations and grievances.
"At some point there has to be an interface between
the MILF and MNLF because they are both claiming
to represent the Bangsamoro. Eventually the MNLF
has to be considered into whatever will be developed
between the GRP and MILF. They cannot just be put
“When I was chairman, the MNLF was not actively
considered on the table. Eventually there really needs
to be that stage whereby the MNLF is brought in. If the
agreement between GRP and MILF results in a better
deal than what the MNLF was able to secure in 1996,
I believe the MNLF could be brought in or becomes
subsumed in a GRP-MILF agreement. If it is in the best
interest of the Bangsamoro, this should not be accepted
negatively by the MNLF. But let me reiterate that this is
a matter that the two fronts should resolve, both being
“There are shortfalls in the 1996 Agreement and there
is an ongoing review to make the implementation
more effective. This does not stand in the way, or is
not contradictory to the ongoing GRP-MILF efforts.
Whatever comes out of the review – hopefully a
better implementation of the 1996 Agreement – the
GRP-MILF peace negotiation would hope to achieve
more than whatever could be done in fulfilling
the implementation of the 1996 Agreement.
"The negotiations with the MILF derives from a prevailing
belief, which could be true, that the 1996 Agreement
was not able to fully address the aspirations of the
Bangsamoro people. This would be expected therefore
that the negotiations with the MILF would result in
a better agreement which we would expect to be a
much better deal for the Bangsamoro than the 1996
“The question here is how power will be apportioned
after. How will the MILF and MNLF get together
to implement an agreement that is substantially
and qualitatively superior to the 1996 Final Peace
Agreement. This should be the frame of mind of
today’s negotiators. So long as it does not infringe
on the territorial integrity of the nation, as what has
already been mentioned by the MILF.”
The two professors interviewed are of the same
mind that a peace agreement should not be rushed.
For Dr. Durante, the peace process is not yet ripe
(…hindi pa hinog). “We feel that there should be
more engagement with the people. There should be
a joint communication/advocacy group or a joint
implementation of an IEC before an agreement is
signed. This will bring about better understanding
from both sides.”
On the other hand, Prof. Rodil believes that “the
government should do a thorough study on what
ought to be the appropriate solution to the Moro
problem, admitting with humility that the government,
colonial and republic, was the principal creator of
the problem and that process of creating the problem
was affirmed and legitimized by the Philippine
constitution. Using the same constitution to resolve a
problem which was created within its legal framework
is begging the question.
"It is best for
government to amend the constitution and legitimize
a new arrangement wherein the Moro people's right
to self-determination can be accommodated, then
it can go to the second move which is to engage the
appropriate Bangsamoro in an honest to goodness
peace negotiation. The product of this negotiation
should create the appropriate legal space within which
the Bangsamoro can figure out for themselves how to
Mayor Lobregat, for his part, still champions the
rights of his constituents, which to him come from
all faiths and tribes, Zamboanga City being a melting
pot in Western Mindanao. He argues that “everybody
wants long and lasting just peace involving all
stakeholders not just the MILF. The MILF aren’t the
only inhabitants of Mindanao. This was a disaster in
the Arroyo Administration. Fortunately we were able
to save our country from the MOA-AD and from
For those in the MILF/Bangsamoro side, Vice-chair
Ghazali Jaafar said, “Our ideal is consistent that
still the best way to resolve the centuries old Moro
Question in Mindanao is through peaceful negotiated
political settlement which means through the current
negotiation. For more than a decade of talking peace
with the government, we have been optimistic and
aspired for one agenda as the final outcome of the
negotiation, and that is to “solve the Bansamoro
The solution to this quest was partially
outlined in the initialed but unsigned MOA-AD.
But the document was only a last ditch to the ideal
outcome of the GRP-MILF Peace Talks which is the
signing of the Comprehensive Compact.
Dr. Juanday wants to abolish the Autonomous
Region in Muslim Mindanao in favor of a new and
enlightened governance. This must be supported by
the Philippine government to show concern for the
Bangsamoro’s right to self determination.
Prof. Lingga wants “a power sharing arrangement
between the Philippine Government and a
Bangsamoro government wherein the Bangsamoro
people will be able to exercise the internal aspects of
sovereignty while the Philippine Government exercises
the external aspects. Specifically, the Philippine
Government shall exercise exclusive powers over
national defense, foreign affairs, currency, postal
services and immigration. All other powers shall
be exercised by the Bangsamoro Government like
regional legislation, taxation, internal security, control
and management of natural resources, fiscal and
economic policies and planning, civil service, etc.”
Realistic Timeline for the Peace Process:
The period in which the desired outcomes can be
achieved is viewed differently by the respondents.
Professors Lingga and Rodil want a period of three
years while Fr. Mercado wants a longer timeline – six
years. Mayor Lobregat also opts for six years which
he says should be enough as long “as the other side
realizes we are one country, with one flag and one
armed force, and that everything agreed upon should
be in the realm of the Constitution”.
Dr. Durante doesn’t want a timeline. There should
be immediate implementation of the above
recommendations, and continuous communication
advocacy. Dr. Juanday shares this view. He wants the
process to start in the soonest possible time. However,
his reason is that he fears that delaying the negotiation
will give way to the breaking up of the Moro front
into small groups which will be an invitation to
“catastrophe”. There are radical members of the
Moro front who might take over the moderates. He
suggested reading the Paul Oquist analysis which was
made years ago.
On the other hand, Vice Chairman Jaafar said that
”the Bangsamoro struggle is adjudged by many as
the longest armed conflict in the world and the peace
processes for decades. And therefore, the realistic
timeline is not tomorrow or anytime in the future but
already a long overdue peace. However, we want to
make it clear that we cannot accept an ill-conceived
peace deal. Therefore, our realistic timeline is for as
long as we could have an opportunity in solving the
Bangsamoro problem or sign a peace agreement which
is comprehensive, just and lasting one.”
Gen. Garcia is more emphatic on the timeline. He says
that “the determinant would be the GRP-MILF peace
agreement. With the MOA-AD, we gave it one year
that a final peace agreement with the MILF would be
signed. Today, one year from the ascendance of the
new administration should be enough. But in fact it
would be better if an agreement could be forged now,
given that the government is currently dealing with
moderate and reasonable people. Now is the time to
forge an agreement”.
What the New Philippine President should do:
To achieve the outcomes that are expected from the
peace process, several recommendations have been
1. Prof. Lingga recommends that
• The new President has to initiate amendments
to the Constitution to allow for a power-sharing
arrangement. These amendments can be done
through “surgical” means (just amend a particular
article or section), or by appending a GRP-MILF
agreement to the Constitution.
• The new President has to exercise strong
political will to address the issues. The “dribbling”
strategy will only prolong the agony.
• The new President has to resolve the issue that
a GRP peace panel represents the Government of
the Republic of the Philippines, not just Office of
• The new President has to engage Malaysia as
facilitator constructively. Any attempt to ease out
Malaysia as facilitator will only complicate the
• Within the first 100 days the new President has
to reconstitute the GRP peace panel and appoint
a cabinet member as head of the panel. The other
members must have the capability to think and act
creatively and constructively.
• The new President must be able to reign in
spoilers of the peace process.
2. Fr. Mercado proposes these plans and
• Government should adopt a coherent peace
policy, not only for the GRP-MILF, but for all
including the MNLF, NPA, IPs, etc; and the
coherent implementation of the peace policy by all
• Government should initiate a dialogue among
the three stakeholders (GRP, ARMM and Local
i. Power sharing among the three
ii. Power devolution from the central government
to the local
iii. Wealth sharing among the three
iv. Wealth devolution
Sharing of power and wealth should be both
vertical and horizontal
• Convincing people that a solution should not
be premised on the past. The peace agreements
should be shaped by the “prospective” not
“retroactive”. We are shackled by the tyranny of
the past. We should look forward – look at the
new challenges such as global citizenship, climate
change, regional updates like the BIMP-EAGA
ASEAN Growth AREA). We should be influenced
by future events and veer away from the “no exit”
discussions going on now.
3. For Dr. Durante, the incoming president
• Continue the peace process and build up on the
• Have increased delivery of basic services
because if there is still widespread poverty, peace
will be difficult to achieve.
• Institute good governance, especially in the
4. Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar recommends
the continuation of the peace negotiations. He said
• “The decades old negotiations do have
outstanding and significant successes as there
were also obstacles that can be a sound lesson for
whoever is the next President of the country. In the
negative aspect, one case in point was the MOA-AD
debacle as a result of disagreement between the
Executive, Legislative, and the Judicial branches of
the government which ought to work independently
from each other but in unison towards the same
objective, but this didn’t happen.”
• “Military approaches by past and present
regimes had been tried but this only exacerbates
the situation in terms of human suffering and
displacements, damages to civilian properties and
human lives notwithstanding the draining of the
• “These happened despite our consistent
pronouncements which are shared by many
intellectuals, peace advocates and even many of
those in the government that the best option for
the government to solve the Bangsamoro Question
is through peaceful means. Therefore, we believe
that still the best logical way for whoever becomes
President is to continue the negotiations.”
5. For Gen. Garcia:
• “I think President Aquino will be open-minded
about Constitutional change as a possible solution
to the peace issue. Although he has initial hesitance
about committing to an amendment of the
Constitution, but my interpretation is that he has
not closed his mind to the possibility that any such
Constitutional amendment would have to proceed
from the will of the people. That does not foreclose
any possibility. I know that his heart is good and
that he would want peace in Mindanao. He is also
aware of the necessity of peace in Mindanao in
order to achieve economic development for the
• “I believe that President Aquino will continue
negotiating with the MILF. Peace negotiations are
a tract that his administration would adhere to,
rather than the military option. It is good to recall
from history that it was his mother who went to
Sulu upon assuming power in 1986 to put closure to
the MNLF rebellion by meeting with Nur Misuari,
which eventually led ten years later to the signing of
a peace agreement in 1996 between the MNLF and
the Government under the Ramos Administration.
Being son to the mother, and despite having people
in his adminstration who are adverse to the MOAAD,
it should be made clear that this does not
undermine national soverignty but does respect that
certain people have a different culture that seeks
to be given expression through the full meaning of
self-governance ... Senator Aquino would see the
wisdom of this.”
6. For Mayor Lobregat:
• “They should consult everybody in Mindanao.
Why did Erap (presidential candidate and former
President, Joseph Estrada) win in Mindanao? What
were the things he said about the peace process,
about the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines)?
The people appreciated him for those. Most of the
votes he got were from Mindanao, and in fact he
won in Mindanao. Why? It was his firmness in 2000,
it showed in his administration that he wanted
peace but did not settle for appeasement. There are
obviously some things to be learned here”.
7. Additional recommendations from other
Mindanao Think Tank interviews: (Since these
interviews with prominent observers to the peace
process in Mindanao were conducted as an initiative
of the Mindanao Think Tank, the following are some
interesting recommendations raised during other
Mindanao Think Tank activities.)
• During a focused group consultation with
Christian church leaders, the respondents
mentioned that the Government does not have a
national peace policy. They mentioned that every
administration has its own policy - from the policy
of unification during the Ramos Administration
to the “all out war” policy of President Estrada.
The absence of a national policy allows every
new administration to come up with its own
Government policy on the peace process. This
will always entail a lot of consultations so that
the sentiments of stakeholders will help in the
formulation of the administration’s peace policy.
• The consultations with the media also elicited
the same recommendations but they stressed more
the creation of a Government-supported Peace
Commission. This will be different from the existing
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace
Process, which is an agency that falls under the
Offi ce of the President. Though supported by it, the
proposed Peace Commission will be independent
of Government, similar to the Commission on
Human Rights or the Commission on Elections,
in its implementation of the national peace policy.
The logic behind this being that the Commission
will not be a party to the peace process, but will
summon the parties and help ensure that they
seriously and sincerely pursue the process. The
Government Peace Negotiating Panel will continue
representing the GRP in the process, as before.
• The media also strongly recommended for the
improvement of communications and advocacy by
the parties and stakeholders to the peace process
not only at the negotiations level but also at the
grassroots. For their particular field, this would
greatly help the process since what would be picked
up by the media would be clearer and in proper
perspective with the greater initiative towards peace
Best possible transition:
Transition plans should be in place. Prof. Lingga
wants the new President to organize a peace panel
in waiting and learn from the previous panels. For
him, “The peace panel in waiting has to know what
have been agreed so far and continue working from
there. The impression we get from the GRP panel is
that they lack institutional memory.” For his part,
Fr. Mercado wants to consolidate the gains of the
peace process, “This should be the bridge from the
old to the new administration – so that we do not
start with zero.“
Vice Chairman Jaafar agrees with the
recommendation of Prof. Lingga and Fr.
Mercado. “The best thing for the new and former
administrations is to summarize the achievements
in the past negotiation, its current status, and have
a smooth turn-over of leaderships including among
others, matters pertaining to the peace talks. On
the other hand, the new President will be guided
on where to start and how to proceed with the
negotiation. In other words, the new President
should sum up the gains of the peace process, move
forward from it, avoid the past mistakes, and most
importantly should strive to make Government
branches work in unison as one Government or
towards one direction to once and for all solve this
Dr. Durante, Gen. Garcia, and Dr. Juanday share the
same ideas on transition. For Dr. Durante, “With the
end of Presidential Peace Adviser Annabelle Abaya’s
term last June 30, there would surely be changes at
OPAPP and the GRP peace panel. The new OPAPP
secretary and the new GRP peace panel should be
populist or pro-people and the demands of both the
MNLF and MILF should be attended to.” Dr. Juanday
is also against dissolving the panel or scrapping the
agreed portion of the negotiation. His advice is to
“ ‘Hang on’ or continue, but to stick to the timeline
agreed upon. The new administration will just have
to take off from where the Arroyo Administration has
left . There are certain agreements that have already
been signed in the course of the negotiations since
1997 that the incoming administration can build
upon. These have stated some general principles on
which the track of negotiations is based.” The same
sentiment was aired by Gen. Garcia.
Mayor Lobregat more or less had the same idea
of transition when he said that “The Government
does not have to do anything new, they just need
to begin where the Supreme Court left off, then do
consultations that are genuine, with the stakeholders
truly considered and feed-backing of results done.”
He said they were invited to previous consultations,
but were never given any feedback as to the results of
those consultations. “We also definitely need a new
Government panel. It should also be made clear who
the MILF represents. And what about the MNLF, are
they involved or are they making demands because
they clearly are a stakeholder here?”
Worst possible scenario:
Those in the civil society look at an all out war as
the worst possible scenario in the peace process. As
Prof. Lingga said, “If within the first three months
the new President will not initiate resumption of
the negotiations, there certainly will be war.” Vice
Chairman Jaafar also looks at the failure to arrive
at an agreement or when the negotiation fails as
the worst case scenario. On the other hand, Mayor
Lobregat looks at the negative effect of an early
agreement: “If the Arroyo Administration signs
something with just weeks remaining in office – that
would be the worst case scenario. Nobody wants war.
But we also can’t be threatened that if something is
not signed we will go to war”.
Dr. Juanday is more emphatic about the scenario
he sees in the future. “If the President or the
administration will reject the peace process and
drop the peace talks, and knowing fully well that
the majority of Filipinos will support war against
the Bangsamoro people, this will push the President
to go to war.
"The next war will be very costly and
very bloody, with the experience in the recent
Maguindanao war that displaced 600,000 people.
"Many Moros believe and know better that the
incident was not an accident; it was done with a
purpose, a warning that the Armed Forces of the
Philippines can be more brutal to include civilians,
their houses, their livelihood and everything that
stands; this will be repeated and duplicated in many
Moro areas. It will also be met with the same brute
force or even more to widen the area of conflict.
"This may be the last war but it will still not end the
conflict. It will only be something that will make
many more sleepless nights and nightmares.
"And even if there will be status quo, in the ARMM alone
where the population is 4 million, half of which
are young, with no education, no work but prolific
growth rate of four percent, this youth will double
by 2010. There are 13-plus million Muslims in the
"This is also an invitation to disaster and
with conflict not resolved there will be too many
young fighters to be recruited by any group. Allowing
the Moro people a chance to help themselves by
putting an end to this age old problem will be the
For Gen. Garcia, the worst case scenarios, and there
are several, are the following: “If the ability to agree
on the contentious points continue to cause the
protracted conduct of the talks interminably, then the
patience of some people might wear off. What could
be a very realistic scenario of frustration in the MILF
ranks translating into radical sentiments would first
erode the ascendancy of the moderates within the
MILF and see the gaining of a foothold by radical
elements and perhaps even take over of the more
radical and aggressive elements on the negotiations.
"The current people we are negotiating with could be
marginalized within their own organization. Right
now this radical streak in the MILF is only being
constrained by the hopes that the moderate leaders
are giving the rank and file that peace is attainable.
But if this does not come, what now?”
The European Commission in the
Philippines for funding the Mindanao
Think Tank as part of the HD Centre’s
initiatives under the European Union’s
Instrument for Stability Program
Mr. David Gorman, the HD Centre’s
Mediation Advisor and Philippines
Mr. Alberto Hamoy Kimpo, HD Centre
Project Officer for the Mindanao Think
Mrs. Milagros Son, Manila Office
Secretary and Administrative Support
Staff of HD Centre
Professor Eva Tan, Lead Facilitator of
the Mindanao Think Tank
Mrs. Shiela Acquiatan, Finance Officer
of the Mindanao Think Tank
About the HD Centre
The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD
Centre) began operations in August 1999.
From its beginning as a venue in Geneva,
Switzerland, where discreet discussions
took place among those who had a practical
impact on humanitarian policy and
practice, the HD Centre has evolved into an
independent global mediation organisation,
with a presence in Europe, North America,
Africa and Asia. Its aim is to help alleviate
the suffering of individuals and populations
caught up in both high-profile and forgotten
conflicts, by acting as mediators and by
providing other mediators with the support
they need to work effectively.
HD Centre in the Philippines
The HD Centre began work in the
Philippines in February 2004 when the
Royal Norwegian Government requested
for the HD Centre’s active involvement
in support of their role as third party
facilitator to the peace process between
the Government of the Republic of the
Philippines and the National Democratic
In 2005 the HD Centre became involved
with the peace process between the GRP and
the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)
when Presidential Adviser on the Peace
Process, Teresita Quintos-Deles requested
the HD Centre’s involvement in resolving a
crisis in Sulu Province between MNLF and
AFP forces. The HD Centre held five rounds
of informal talks between the two parties
and in August 2005, established the GRP
-MNLF Peace Working Group. In 2008, the
HD Centre established the Armed
Violence Reduction Initiative which is a
multi-stakeholder response to non-conflict
related violence that has been prevalent in
Sulu. in 2009, the HD Centre established
the Tumikang Sama Sama, a group of six
eminent persons in Sulu, that attempt
to resolve local conflicts and in 2010, it
established the Prevention of Election
Related Violence initiative, a group of 25
volunteers who monitor and report on
election related violence in Sulu.
In 2007, the HD Centre began
involvement in the current Mindanao
peace process that involves peace efforts
between the GRP and the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF). HD Centre is
a member of the International Contact
Group (ICG), providing advice to both
parties and civil society through eminent
persons and experts from around the
world. On the ground, the HD Centre
established the Mindanao Think Tank,
a multi-stakeholder consultative effort
aimed at creating an opportunity for
communities in Mindanao to be more
involved in the peace process. The group
conducts consultations at the community
level as well as among local experts and
offi cials from key sectors to solicit their
advice for the MILF and GRP panels and
to keep them abreast of the peace process.
The HD Centre also conducts research
through support to the Institute of
You may visit us at www.hdcentre.org
Funded by the European Commission
Banned by Admin
fucing ina may mortars, grenade launchers at machine guns ang mga ****, baka hindi peace caravan yan
he he he
shocking to know there are those who defend the terrorists here. tsk tsk
The MNLF sniper who recognized me
By CHINO GASTON, GMA News September 16, 2013 2:11pm
Soldiers capture MNLF sniper in Zambo City
Soldiers capture MNLF sniper in Zambo City. An alleged Moro National Liberation Front sniper in Barangay Santa Catalina, Zamboanga City, captured by government troops on Saturday. Chino Gaston
The police facility near the fighting was crowded with newly captured MNLF rebels, some of them bleeding from bullet wounds, a few of them over 60 years old.
They smelled of sweat and gun powder, their hands blackened and faces burnt dark brown.
That's where I saw him: a heavy-set man with mop-like hair and huge hands, fast asleep in a sitting position in a corner of the room. His head was leaning on a makeshift blackboard where a list of names of known hostages were written.
His handcuffed hands were swollen from burns and cuts, a patina of soot rendering his skin an ashen grey. His thick fingers were scarred, calloused, and bruised.
His camouflage pants had faded to a light grey and his right arm had a bandaged wound. His skin, a deep, dark olive brown, glistened with grime. A serene expression marked the sleeping man.
A police official sidled next to me and whispered with unmasked awe, "That's the Santa Catalina sniper," referring to the barangay where the most intense fighting had been waged since the rebels entered the city on September 9.
The man must have heard us for he suddenly opened his eyes and stared in our direction. His eyes were like coals, smouldering with the fire of purpose.
I was told this man was one of the most relentless MNLF snipers, preventing soldiers from advancing towards rebel positions along Lustre Street, the scene of some of the fiercest combat.
For days, the rebel snipers held their positions, on top of buildings and inside attics, shooting out of windows. This man did not surrender. He was cornered by government troops after he ran out of bullets.
A flicker of recognition crosses the man's face and he breaks into a wide, almost sheepish smile. It was like watching a chameleon, a killer turning into someone's goofy uncle.
We had seen each other before, not in Zamboanga but in the jungles of Sulu. "I know you," I tell him. He nods and cracks an even bigger smile.
"Tausug," he replies.
"Bitanag?" I ask, referring to MNLF Commander Ustadz Habir Malik's old stronghold in Panamao, Sulu that I visited almost ten years ago.
He nods again. I try to prod him for more information but the only word he utters is “Tausug.” He was with Malik again in Zamboanga City. Malik is believed to be the leader of the rebels occupying several neighborhoods and holding dozens of hostages in the heart of the city.
One of the thoughts that had been burning in my mind in the past days was the seeming indifference of the MNLF fighters to the incredible odds stacked against them.
Government troop estimates number around 5000 in the conflict area while intelligence reports had pegged rebel numbers at just around 180 armed men, and that was before the 52 dead gunmen reported by a military spokesman.
The devastation and loss of life caused by the MNLF are unforgivable, whatever motive and belief behind it. But one cannot help feeling a sense of awe at the determination of these men.
What made these simple folk follow the man they call Commander Malik to the gates of hell?
I get an answer from a nineteen-year-old sniper named Udab from Talipao, Sulu who was among those captured.
He tells me they were promised ten thousand pesos to attend a supposedly planned MNLF flag-raising at the Zamboanga City Hall. Most of them did not have guns when they came to Zamboanga. On Monday, just before the planned march, they were issued firearms somewhere in Barangay Santa Barbara.
In the past week, the military had been circulating news about the death of Commander Malik, perhaps in an effort to dampen the morale of the remaining MNLF fighters. But Udab shakes his head when I try to confirm the death of the senior MNLF commander. He tells me he last saw Malik Friday night.
"It is God's will that he is alive. Bullets cannot harm him."
Before I leave, I take one last look at the Santa Catalina sniper. He is sleeping again. It must be the first real sleep he has had in days. – HS, GMA News
Banned by Admin
Umeepal si Fidel V. Ramos at Indonesian Govt
Clean up MNLF mess, FVR tells PNoy
MANILA - As the crisis in Zamboanga City stretched into another day, former President Fidel Ramos gave the Aquino administration some unsolicited advice.
"Why don't you clean up your own mess first because you did it in the first place after we turned it over to you in a nice silver platter," he said.
Ramos said Aquino should fix his management team.
"Put your team in order. After that, maybe you can succeed in cleaning up the mess," he added.
He said his advice is based on experience. "Kami, we are trying to give advice. You can take it or leave it but it is good advice because it is based on experience."
The peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front was signed in 1997 during the Ramos administration.
Ramos said the peace deal was not implemented properly by his successors.
"Hindi totoo na may nasasabi ng media, kayo, sa newspaper na nasira yung peace agreement nung Ramos administration nung panahon ni Ramos. Hindi po. Nasa implementation yan eh. Kahit na anong ganda ng kasunduan, peace agreement, eh kung mali mali ang implementation afterwards eh di sira rin yung kapayapaan na iyun," he added.
Ang dami palang magaling na sniper eh. Sana inubos nalang nila yung mga kurakot na politician dito sa Maynila!
zamboanga police chief abuducted by MNLF!
why in the world was he abducted? he did not take precautions? i thought the military and the police are all over the place.
also why the hell is aquino still in zamboanga? its a security risk!
Look, I'm not defending MNLF pero sana Magisip isip naman sana ang mga tao rito na pabor sa All-Out-War at military confrontation at isinasantabi ang peaceful settlement. Look at the Big Picture.
Naiinis din ako sa mga taong nagcricriticize kay Binay. Binay attempted a peaceful solution, pero yung mga #1 supporters ng All-Out-War ay sinuportahan si Roxas na isang impatient, ambitious.
Dahil sa ganyang mentalidad, nagkaroon ng Rason ang MNLF na magdeclare ng Giyera sa GPH at iabrogate ang 1996 final peace agreement.
Advance party yang dinala nila sa Zamboanga. Pain yan. They will use it as propaganda para magkaroon ng rason to declare war.
Why Zamboanga? Para palabasin na inaapi ng mga Kristiyano ang Moro.
Kalkulado sila na susugurin yan ng Militar. They know na they are Militarily inferior
at alam nilang Trigger Happy ang AFP.
Noynoy and Mar Fell into a trap.
there is nothing peaceful about an army with arms attacking and occupying barangays, taking hundreds of hostages, using them as human shields, burning of 1,000 structures and the killing of civilians and soldiers. and they are not even from Zamboanga! zamboanga is a predominantly catholic/christian city.
where is peace in that?
that is not peace, that is terorism,
they did that, they deserve to be taken out by force. as of today, 100 MNLF rebels have been killed or captured. now, the government need to go after the other 150 or so.
terrorists deserve military action. they only know violence and terror, the military needs to give in kind.
kaya nga Zamboanga e, para palabasin na inaapi ng mga Xtiano ang mga Muslim.
on TV patrol - 23 MNLF soldiers set to surrender.
Mga Demonyong MNLF namatay yung 2 taong gulang na bata dahil ginawang Human Shield
nakakalungkot marami dito sa PEX ang nakikisimpatya sa MNLF
sabihin nyo nang kulang sa pansin si misuari.
well, the nation is paying a high price for the government ignoring misuari and his rightful demands that the peace deal he signed in 1996 be honored by GRP, the other signee.
@News5AKSYON: @MARoxas:SSupt.Malayo kept on convincing 23 MNLF fighters to surrender even after they abducted him this morning in Mampang. |via @djstaana
malayo was released and with him 23 MNLF soldiers who abducted him that apparently he was able to convince to surrender.
terorista mga yan dapat dyan
tapusin! tapusin! tapusin!