Bangsamoro and DDR: Is it really going through DDR?

Submitted by: Llaura Garcia

One of the agreements in recent years that came about was the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro. The Bangsamoro, formerly known as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), was an insurgency group in Mindanao, Philippines (the southern part of the country). The engaged in terrorist activities with the goal of being independent from the Philippines. They wanted independence until 2011 when they decided to go for a substate status instead. While the idea of peace agreement is ideal, I do wonder if the entire process of DDR will be followed through or if it’s necessary. The agreement is essentially a ceasefire agreement but I don’t see them completely disarming, demobilizing, or reintegrating. The agreement does have elements of DDR but not to the same extent as other DDR operations.

The Bangsmoro agreement was about the Bangsmoro having a way to govern themselves. Essentially, the agreement has a similar relationship to the central government that the US states has with the federal government. What I find fascinating about this agreement is that it is about the expansion of the powers by Bangsamoro. For example, it is stated in section 3.6 that, “the customary rights and traditions of indigenous peoples shall be taken into consideration in the formation of the Bansmoro’s justice system.” The Bangsmoro, who were guilty of terrorist acts, will not only get to be a substate –but will have the opportunity to create their own laws, govern themselves, have the power to levy taxes, get grants from outside institutions or organizations, generating their own revenue, and could expand their territory should certain areas decide to be included in the agreement. While this agreement is certainly more preferable to war and other terrorist acts, (as an outside observer), it is difficult to see how the people would be willing to live with the result of the agreement and normalize the relationship with those involved.

According to the Bangsmoro agreement (Section 8), the parties involved will participate in normalizing the relationship of those involved to ensure human security, maintain human rights, the MILF themselves are in charge of their own “demobilization” while the functions of the AFP to police will be transferred to the Bangsmoro, disbandment of private armies, reduction and control of firearms, rehabilitate ex-combatants, considering the needs of the IDPs, and creating a transitional justice system to address grievances. While I find that peace will always be my choice to fighting, the peace agreement doesn’t seem to be the most peaceful agreement since the group are in charge of their own demobilization, they can generate their own revenue, and there’s very minimal talk about oversite to ensure that the process is moving forward. I like the idea of Filipinos not fighting against each other but it worries me that loopholes will be found and some of the generated revenue will go to the “demobilized” or disenfranchised men who sympathizes or has relations with terrorist organizations like Abu Sayyaf and Al Qaida.

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