By Arjay L. Balinbin, April 10 2019; Business World

Image Credit to Philippine Communications Operations Office (PCOO)

THE MORO National Liberation Front (MNLF) is forming a panel that will negotiate with the national government on federalism, the group said in an interview.

“I think the MNLF has started to form a panel. The government also has, I think, though it’s not official, some persons who will constitute its panel,” MNLF legal counsel Randolph C. Parcasio told BusinessWorld.

In an interview at Malacañang last Monday, April 8, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said: “I don’t know yet if they have already started, [but] each panel will be composed of five members: five from the government and five from the MNLF.”

Mr. Parcasio was one of the speakers at the “National Forum and Launch of the Policy Report on Prospects and Proposals for Charter Change and Federalism,” held by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) in Makati on April 5.

The goal, he said, is to talk about federalism and draft a federal constitution.

The Consultative Committee (Con-Com), which President Rodrigo R. Duterte formed to review the 1987 Constitution, completed its draft Bayanihan Federal Constitution last year.

House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has also introduced her own draft, the Resolution of Both Houses No. 15, which was co-authored by 21 other legislators. Her draft, unlike the draft of Mr. Duterte’s Con-Com, is silent on political dynasties.

Mr. Parcasio, who is also a Con-Com member, said Mr. Misuari is supportive of the Con-Com’s draft except for the “configuration” of Mindanao.

“The only disagreement between our draft and the concept of the MNLF is the configuration of Mindanao…. Under our (Con-Com) draft, Mindanao will have six federated regions. He feels that it does not address the problems of Mindanao because we have contentious areas for the indigenous peoples. You have areas for the Bangsamoro, so it will be more appropriate, sabi n’ya (he said), if the Mindanaoans themselves will be the ones or will have the opportunities or privilege to decide on how to reconfigure. ‘Yun lang sa kanya (That’s his only concern),” he explained.