By Roy Mabasa
The Japanese government has expressed its desire to continue to support the Mindanao peace process in a comprehensive manner, fully taking into account “new circumstances” after the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda delivered this message during the hosting of the Bangsamoro Forum in Makati City on Tuesday.
Haneda pointed out that the Mindanao peace process is now at a critical juncture where all the stakeholders who have been involved, one way or another, “should get together to compare notes on the current situation in considering support for the future.”
Co-hosted by the Japanese Embassy in Manila and the United Nations, the Bangsamoro forum seeks to deepen the international community’s understanding of the peace process through a discussion of current progress, future plans, and challenges.
Over 100 participants joined the forum, including Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Nabil Tan, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Implementing Panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Al Parreño, and representatives of 15 countries and 19 international organizations.
Key players of the Mindanao peace process and participants of the forum actively discussed the BOL plebiscite early next year, the transition to the new Bangsamoro government, and the normalization process.
The poll body has scheduled the plebiscite for the ratification of the BOL on two separate days – on Jan. 21, 2019 and Feb. 6, 2019.
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) President Shinichi Kitaoka delivered his talk on the peace process and Bangsamoro thru a video message while MILF Chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim thanked Japan for its assistance in a written message read on his behalf.