“While we reaffirm our support to Bangsamoro’s struggle for self-determination and their inherent right to chart their own democratic future, we continue to reflect on the gains and challenges of the historic peace deal 10 years after it was signed. The 10th year anniversary of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) must go beyond commemorating and celebrating it. The gains of the peace process must be protected at all costs by those who believe that building peace with social justice in Mindanao is an imperative task of the whole nation.”  

This was how Gus Miclat, executive director of the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), summarized their reflections on the gains and challenges of the CAB, which the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed on March 27, 2014 during the Aquino III administration concluding 17 years of tedious peace negotiations. 

The 10th anniversary of the historic pact will be commemorated two days from now at the MILF’s main headquarters in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. Personalities and groups including IID, who were deeply involved in the peace process have been invited to grace the occasion.  

The Bangsamoro region was established in 2019 following the ratification of Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the BARMM. The creation of the Bangsamoro region is the key component of the CAB which replaced the former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Miclat added, “We reiterate our resolve that granting the Bangsamoro greater autonomy is a major step to genuinely recognize the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people and other inhabitants of Mindanao. Complementing CAB’s objective is the civil society’s desire to help resolve the age-old conflict in Mindanao and Bangsamoro region through inclusive peacebuilding and meaningful dialogues.” 


Envisioned as a political solution to armed-conflict in Mindanao, CAB has suffered setbacks and endured a lot of challenges as its 10 years of existence was marked by major outbreaks of armed conflicts including the Mamasapano incident in 2015 and the siege of Marawi in 2017 and other localized clashes.     

Miclat stressed, “It was never an easy journey for the civil society and peacebuilding communities engaging the peace process but we stayed the course and held tightly to the promise of lasting peace and progressive development as enshrined in the CAB.” 

He said, “CAB is a product not only of political negotiations between the Bangsamoro and the Philippine government, but also of the peacebuilding communities’ decades of peacemaking. With that, we intend to defend and protect the political vision and intent of what we claim as ‘Our CAB.


Last year, civil society groups successfully launched the “Principles for Peace” (P4P) in Davao City. P4P is an initiative that seeks to set a “new mechanism, standards and metrics to support and sustain efforts for a long-lasting peace in Mindanao. A result of an extensive two-year global consultation process, P4P is a new framework and mechanism that serves as a diagnostic tool to measure the progress of the Bangsamoro peace process and would provide the communities a platform for genuine dialogue and inclusive participation. 

The P4P launch in July 11 last year was organized by the Geneva-based Principles for Peace Foundation, Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) and its regional secretariat, Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), International Center for Innovation, Transformation and Excellence in Governance Inc. (INCITEGov), and Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute (GZO).

The IID executive director explained, “Securing the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process especially at this crucial juncture, requires mobilizing broader support and solidarity geared towards achieving durable peace in the region. While the peace process has hit some bumps along the way, reaping the dividends of peace lies in our collective effort to realize the promise of the peace agreement.”


With less than 2 years left before the end of the Bangsamoro transition period and the planned elections in 2025, Miclat added, “there’s a need to address current challenges in the Bangsamoro. Already, a spike of horizontal conflicts among Moro clans, local politicians and between Moro and non-Moro indigenous peoples within the BARMM are threatening the peace and social fabric of the incipient autonomous region. Reports of backsliding to the “old ways” of corruption, nepotism among others have also threatened the general goodwill generated by the peace agreement.” 


A major component of the normalization annex of the CAB, that has yet to be realized is the Transitional Justice-Dealing with the Past (TJ-DWP) provision—seen as a critical strategy that could address the legacies of serious human rights violations, marginalization, land dispossession, and historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro. A Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) was established in September 2014 to follow through on this caveat. Most of its recommendations have yet to be executed.

IID stated that the state of thousands of  Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) in Marawi, most of whom have yet to return to their homes eight years after the siege of their beloved city, is a stark example of how challenging transitional justice has yet to be attained in the Bangsamoro. 

Miclat stressed, “As a nation, we have an imperative task to achieve genuine national healing and this will not be fulfilled if we continue to deny or ignore the fundamental reasons and roots of the Bangsamoro’s struggle for sustainable peace, economic progress and self-determination. The quest for transitional justice is what underpins the long struggle for self-determination of the Bangsamoro people.” 

Reaffirming the commitment to the Bangsamoro peace process requires the government to firmly commit to establishing transitional justice mechanisms aimed towards addressing the historical grievances of the Bangsamoro including human rights violations, land dispossession and other systemic forms of marginalization, non-inclusion and discrimination.

Miclat concluded, “We need to have a shared commitment to establish a clear program for transitional justice not only for the Bangsamoro but for the whole nation. We urge the government, particularly policy actors, in the spirit of solidarity, to once and for all do what is right and deliver lasting peace to the Bangsamoro with firm commitment to implement the recommendations of the TJRC for starters, as maintenance of a peaceful life for peoples is the sacred duty of each sovereign state.” ###

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