In this case, the leaders of the government remained cautious about the government`s intentions regarding the signing of the final agreement, but clearly felt that the government`s efforts should be taken seriously. In mid-September 1996, shortly after the signing of the peace agreement with the MNLF, the MILF announced that it was also negotiating with the government, according to them. A joint monitoring committee, composed of members of the JRC and the MNLF, shall continue to meet with the assistance of the ICO to review and identify agreements that can be implemented immediately and shall oversee the implementation of this Agreement during Phase I. In 2003, the Department of Trade and Industry of the ARMM invited the regional legislator to expedite the passage of the Regional Economic Zone Authority (REZA) Act to stimulate local and foreign investment through tax incentives and revenue festivals.1 On 15 August 2003, the Regional Assembly passed the RIZA Act in accordance with the 1996 agreement. The RIZA Law provides the legal mechanism for the establishment, operation, management and coordination of special economic zones within the region2. It has also paved the way for the formulation of guidelines for various socio-economic development programmes, including local tax legislation and preferential rights over the exploration, exploitation and use of natural resources in the Autonomous Region. The MNLF was once the largest Muslim rebel group to fight for an independent Islamic state in Mindanao. When she signed the peace agreement, the rebel group`s fighters laid down their arms and their leaders ruled the Muslim Autonomous Region of Mindanao. The MNLF and the ICO publicly reject Ra 9054 and claim that the GRP`s unilateral efforts to define strategic minerals and retain 100% of the revenues from strategic minerals constitute a flagrant violation of the 1996 Peace Agreement.1 The main reason for the implementation of the 1996 Agreement was the amendment of RA 6734 and the opening of elections for the extension of the territory of the ARMM. This is expected to take place during Phase I (1996-1997).
After the adoption of this law, a referendum was to be held in 1998 to determine who will join the ARMM. The legislation repealing RA 6734 and the resulting referendum did not take place in 1996. On October 2, 1996, President Fidel Ramos gave Executive Order No. 371 proclaiming a Special Zone for Peace and Development in the Southern Philippines and the establishment of the South Japan Peace and Development Council and the Consultative Assembly.1 Like all peace processes, the MNLF governmental process has been particularly creative in its design and implementation. The strategies adopted by the parties over the four years of negotiations demonstrate a commendable approach to peacemaking — in their commitment to maintaining multiple channels of dialogue and communication, in their approach to institutionalizing communication and negotiations, and in using informal networks. The Ramos government`s approach to negotiations, which are defined as « six paths to peace, » is an example of enormous international value rhetorically, even if tragically not in practice. However, despite an exemplary negotiation process in many respects, the resulting regulation appeared vulnerable from the outset. The much-vaunted « consensus and consultation » has largely been limited to negotiators, with the exception of a number of symbolic efforts to communicate with civil society organizations. Thus, both sides found it difficult to convince a wider audience of the wisdom of the agreement when its terms were finally announced. . . .