The story so far

Members of the government peace panel at the 43rd round of talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Photo: Sec. Edwin Lacierda)

Members of the government peace panel at the 43rd round of talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Photo: Sec. Edwin Lacierda)

Exciting news over the weekend: Negotiating panels from the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front agreed on the fourth and final annex to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

That means the Bangsamoro Transition Commission has enough guidance to come out with a draft for the Bangsamoro basic law that it will submit to Congress. The expectation being Congress will then pass the law, paving the way for a plebiscite to create a new Bangsamoro entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

I was lucky enough to be at the newsroom (but not lucky enough to be in Kuala Lumpur, where the talks were held) when the news broke. The feeling was not unlike the near-tears I had on January 20, 2001 after Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took her oath as President.

This was something historic—it’s easy to take historic things for granted in this job—and I was grateful to have been part of it in some small way.

Said small way being doing stories on the peace process over the years.* The peace process is one of the issues I have written on for pretty much every media outfit I have worked for in the past five years.

Also through every hairstyle

Also through varying lengths of hair

In fact, my first banner story for this tiny tabloid was on the peace process. Rather, on its failure.

This was in 2008, when the scrapping of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain sparked fighting that residents of affected areas have yet to recover from.

Things have changed since then although there are still a lot of changes to be made.

The peace process in Mindanao is a long way from completion, but the peace panel hopes to have the Bangsamoro basic law passed by 2016. If I play things right (by not dying, and not losing my job, for example), I hope to get to report on that too.

At an unrelated conference at the UP College of Law several years ago, then college dean Marvic Leonen challenged reporters present to follow a case through the years to track how the justice system works. Challenge accepted, I guess, although in a completely different field.

*An even smaller way: Singing a very bad rendition of “Livin’ on a Prayer” in front of the presidential peace adviser on a reporting trip to ARMM. It was terrible. Here is a story from that trip, albeit without mention of the massacred song.


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