The 1996 agreement is a decisive step in a seemingly very long process of peace-building in Mindanao. This issue of the agreement deals with the implementation of this agreement, its effects to date and the prospects for a gradual transition to greater autonomy that it outlines. In March 1999, the prospects for a successful transition were bleak. In Mindanao, the results of the agreement were very disappointing and the new government of President Joseph Estrada adopted a more aggressive attitude towards rebel groups. Amid the tensions, responsibility for resolving conflicts at the community level and promoting intercultural understanding has fallen disproportionately on the shoulders of civil society groups. It remains to be seen whether the implementation of this agreement will lead to peace or if it is merely a detour into new conflicts, but efforts and innovations in peace-building in Mindanao and lessons learned are invaluable examples for those facing similar conflicts around the world. In 1996, the peace agreement was negotiated between the MNLF and the Philippine government. Under the peace agreement, there would be a transition period (phase I) that would last several years and would be marked by intense development and aid projects, followed by a new referendum on the creation of a larger, enlarged autonomous region. The peace agreement called the four current ARMM provinces and 10 other provinces and nine cities a Special Zone for Peace and Development (SZOPAD).
After previous democratic rejections, the MNLF hoped: The 1996 final agreement divided the implementation mechanism of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement into two phases: the most important timetable for the implementation of the 1996 agreement concerned the modification of RA 6734 and the possibility of implementing the 1996 agreement. to hold elections to expand the ARMM area. This should be done in Phase I (1996-1997).