Hope for Sustainable Peace – Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Reach Framework Agreement
By Mavic Cabrera-Balleza
After more than two years of intense negotiations, the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have reached a framework agreement leading to a sustained peace process in the Muslim region of the Philippines. The Framework Agreement is the overarching design for the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. It defines the principles, processes and mechanisms for the transition leading to a new political entity that will replace the current Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The ARMM, the region composed of predominantly Muslim provinces is criticized for being ineffective in addressing the concerns of its constituents and for reinforcing existing inequalities.
The Framework agreement contains two provisions on Basic Rights that highlight women’s rights: 1) right of women to meaningful political participation, and protection from all forms of violence; and 2) right to equal opportunity and non-discrimination in social and economic activity and public service, regardless of class, creed, disability, gender or ethnicity. It must also be noted that for the first time, the MILF has appointed a woman on its board of consultants and technical working group: Raissa Jajurie. The government panel has two women members namely: Miriam Coronel Ferrer and Yasmin Busran Lao.
In her remarks on the adoption of the Framework Agreement, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles noted: “The agreement lays the foundation for a future more invested in books, not bullets. It is about young lives able to realize their dreams in the safety of communities where conflict used to reign. It is about writing the success story of our nation together, as brothers and sisters, respectful of each other’s diversity and cultural identity.” Secretary Deles and all three women on the government and MILF panels have strong civil society backgrounds.
The Philippines adopted a National Action Plan on the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in 2010, the first country in Asia to adopt such a plan. Many believe that the inclusion of a woman on the MILF board of consultants and technical working group as well as the integration of women’s rights in the framework agreement are partly attributable to the strong advocacy of Philippine women’s groups on UNSCR 1325.