The Present State of Peace in Mindanao
On January 21, 2019, the historic referendum was held. It was expected this BOL plebiscite could see peace come to the island group after 50 years of unrest. This vote asks the residents whether creating a new self-administered region known as Bangsamoro (BARMM) or not. The government thinks it could bring a peaceful resolution to the Mindanao conflict, which has claimed more than 150,000 lives since the 1970s.
No official figures have been released yet. Unofficial results
President Rodrigo Duterte, who was mayor of the Mindanao city of Davao before he took office, formally signed the Bangsamoro Organic Law in July 2018. That is why a referendum is being held. Now, President Rodrigo R. Duterte considers Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari as someone who can help in resolving the conflict in Mindanao.
Once the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) takes effect, the island of Mindanao will have an autonomous Muslim government with legislation, administrative and fiscal power. However, the power of national defense, foreign affairs, and monetary policies is left to the central government. The Philippines government expects the establishment of a Bangsamoro self-governing region to maintain a peace regime while suppressing the expansion of Islamic extremists.
A total of 2.8 million registered for the Bangsamoro plebiscite, with 2.17 million in the provinces and cities covered by the January 21 polls. If the “yes” vote wins, then a second plebiscite is set on February 6 in six Lanao del Norte towns and in 67 villages in North Cotabato, where more than 600,000 voters registered.
Road to Peacebuilding in Philippine Mindanao : Past 4 years
Despite the opposition of one governor of the Sulu Islands, the BOL has been praised by the United Nations, the European Union, the U.S. and Japan as “welcome” and “groundbreaking.”
The BOL’s momentum was created in March 2014 when the government and MILF signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which serves as the basis of the draft BOL.
The MILF officially said “The BOL has been the fruit of peace negotiations for 17 years, and it is the result of efforts by various people and outstanding legal experts in the four-year term.”
It was signed by the President Rodrigo Duterte on 26 July 2018.
If you want to know more details? Road to Peacebuilding
“Korean Peace Leader,” the hidden hero of peace in Mindanao
As the news of the end of the civil war spread, the Korean peace leader, Man hee Lee, who visited the scene of a dispute at the age of 84 four years ago, is drawing attention again.
On January 24, 2014, at the request of the Philippines` archbishop, Mr. Man hee Lee was visiting Mindanao to end the civil war. The Chairman Lee found that the cause of the Mindanao conflict was a religious conflict between Catholic and Islamic nations, and led a civilian peace agreement. This scene was reported through the Philippines’ state-run PTV and private media.
On June 25, the day after this peacebuilding news of HWPL was delivered to the Philippine government and the Islamic military. On this day, the Philippine government and the Mori-Slam Liberation Front have signed an annex document to recognize the Islamic autonomy of the Bangsamoro and to disarm up to 10,000 people. Accordingly, the two sides prepared detailed bills and signed an official peace agreement in March that year. In June 2015, the actual arms return of the MILF was carried out.
HWPL Peace Monument in MILF
On 24 January 2016, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) held an unveiling ceremony for the Monument to the Declaration of World Peace located in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao Province. To commemorate the historical Mindanao Peace Agreement mediated by Chairman Lee of HWPL, Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim of MILF also decided to designate January 24th of every year as ‘HWPL Day’.
Over 10,000 people from communities in Sultan Kudarat participated in the ceremony. Hon. Al haj Murad Ebrahim, Chairman of MILF said “Today, where people are suffering from wars and conflicts, all leaders of diverse sectors including politics and religions, are taking part in the peace movements of HWPL by implementing an international law on cessation of wars and world peace, and establishing the HWPL World Alliance of Religions’ Peace (WARP) Office, as a follow-up on the pledges they made before God and all people.
Peace is not a matter confined to a single person but to every individual. Therefore anyone who is part of this global family must all become messengers of peace. Let us all participate and become the messengers of peace to pass on peace as an eternal legacy for the future generations!”
Man Hee Lee Peacebuilding Biography
Also, the 30th World Peace Tour of Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light or HWPL, will be held in Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan on February 15, 2019. The 30,000 participants in Region 3 including social representatives in the Philippines and international peace activists will going to attend the peace summit.
To support Peace Building, the 30th World Peace Tour are organized by the Volunteer Individuals for Peace (VIP) by Dr. Ronald Adamat, CHED’s Commissioner and Mr. Man Hee Lee, Chairman of HWPL.
Chairman Man Hee Lee of HWPL, signed the MOA on peace education with 127 schools in 9 countries including the Philippines, etc. The Commissioner Ronald L. Adamat of the CHED, who proposed MOA to HWPL, expressed hope for HWPL peace education by saying “Children easily imitate war through toys like war weapons, but they don’t know how to play and imitate peace. Promoting peace education through the CHED will affect many Philippine educational institutions and play a crucial role in promoting peace in the Philippines.”
What is left after the Referendum?
Even if the BOL passes the referendum, there are many challenges facing the path toward a peaceful settlement of Mindanao. For example, disarmament of rebels following the end of the civil war is a controversial issue. A representative case of rebels being incorporated into the government at the end of the civil war is found in Nepal. Nepal suffered greatly due to strong opposition from the previous government and political circles in the process.
How does the Philippines cope with this crisis? I don’t know well, but I think this controversial issue will be expected to be discussed at the peace summit of the 30th World Peace Tour. This is because the Article 1, 2 of the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW) details the disarmament. Also, through Peace Education of HWPL, the wind of peace will blow in all Mindanao, Philippines.
DPCW Article 1 – Prohibition of the threat or use of force
2. States should refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of military force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations Charter or international law in general.
DPCW Article 2 – War potential
3. States should take measures to ensure that existing weapons of mass destruction, weapons capable of causing widespread and unnecessary suffering and weapons incompatible with international humanitarian law are gradually dismantled or destroyed. States should cooperate in disarmament and the reduction of arms stockpiles, ideally under international supervision. Decommissioned weapons manufacturing facilities should be repurposed, so that they may serve purposes that are beneficial to humanity in general.
4. States should strive to reduce excessive standing armies and military bases.