OFW group expresses apprehensions over Mindanao “peace deal”

As Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak arrived in the Philippines to facilitate the signing of the “Bangsamoro” peace framework, sectoral group Migrante Partylist expressed its apprehensions over the possible dangerous implications and effects of the accord on the Moro peoples and the general Filipino public.

According to Connie Bragas-Regalado, president of Migrante Partylist, “We recognize that this development is borne out of the decades-long struggle of the Moro people, led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), to attain their right to self-determination. We laud the MILF and the Moro people for their perseverance in striving for just and lasting peace in the region. However, we now put forth our apprehensions over possibly ‘dangerous’ provisions in the accord that may well affect not only the Moro people but the general public.”

Bragas-Regalado voiced out concerns over the requisite of a charter change for the accord to take effect. “We understand that the Bangsamoro framework agreement has to be in accordance with the Philippine Constitution and its legal processes. This entails charter change that may be exploited by the present administration for the further plunder of our natural and human resources by foreign investors and companies, especially in the Mindanao region.”

“Our position on charter change is the same now as it was in the proposed MOA-AD (Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain) during the time of former president Gloria Arroyo. Charter change at this time is too treacherous especially now that the Aquino administration seems hell-bent on disregarding national sovereignty and patrimony in the form of the re-entry of US and other foreign troops in the country and his flagship program of PPP (public-private partnership),” she said.

Aside from charter change, Bragas-Regalado also questioned the timing of the agreement, a few months before the start of the electoral campaign period.

“We fear that this move, on the part of the GPH, may just be another tactic to consolidate administration allies and leaders in the to-be-formed Bangsamoro region. While we sincerely trust the intentions and vision of the Moro people, we cannot say that we have the same confidence in the Aquino administration.”

Bragas-Regalado said that the Bangsamoro framework agreement is still too broad and general in scope and provisions that would make the Bangsamoro “overly-dependent on legal, constitutional and even financial undertakings by the GPH” necessitates vigilance on the part of the Filipino people.

“We stand firm in our belief that just and lasting peace in the Mindanao region and in the country can only be achieved if the GPH genuinely addresses the root causes of poverty, landlessness and unemployment and lack of social services in the country. These very root causes are the main reasons why our countrymen are being forced to migrate abroad, or in this context, take up arms to express discontent against the prevailing status quo,” Bragas-Regalado said. A large portion of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and OFW families hail from the Mindanao region.

Migrante Partylist announced that it is set to conduct consultations and fora with its chapters and Moro members in the country and abroad to get their thoughts and insights on the Bangsamoro framework agreement. ###