GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 6 Sept) – Our last COMMENT article “Talagang Committed Ba si Presidente?” was to seek a historic answer. Government Panel Chair Marvic Leonen and MILF Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal in their opening statements at their 31st exploratory talks – as well as Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process in statements in anticipation of the 31st exploratory talks – provide the likely historic answer.
They are cautiously optimistic. They are aware of the contentious issues before them. But they think that in their common desire to put an end to the Mindanao problem they will persevere to reconcile differences and compromise hard positions until they are able to sign the historic peace agreement.
Leonen proposes to “take home to our principals a completed … consensus draft, even a very rough draft, with some options of a framework agreement for their serious consideration” [emphasis supplied]. “Principals” refers to the President and the MILF Chairman who are both committed to the final solution of the Bangsamoro problem.
Signing the framework agreement is only the beginning of the final solution. He sees the “inevitable difficulties that lie ahead after the peace agreement is signed” — the “long road that all of us have to take”. But the difficulties would be overcome. “Our principals have already committed to take measured political risks to point to where that road will start.”
Iqbal says “the GPH-MILF peace negotiation is passing through a defining moment, nay critical phase, which allows no complacency on the part of the parties”. He cites realities and challenges that can be “put to rest when after signing an agreement with the government, the MILF can deliver and the condition of the people will change for the better”.
Referring to Deles’ “very positive statement” about the “bright prospects of peace in Mindanao”, Iqbal says “this optimism reflects the positive response of the government to the proposal of the MILF vis-à-vis some of the remaining sticky points still to be hurdled by the parties. In such a case, signing the Framework Agreement is not a remote possibility. It can happen, perhaps not in a very distant future”.
The framework agreement may be the final agreement. In an exclusive online exchange of views, Igbal said: “The Framework Agreement, if ever it is signed, is more than the MOA-AD. It will contain all the essential elements of the comprehensive compact.” He suggests it is immediately implementable. When necessary, the President will prevail on the Congress to pass the implementing law. (Patricio P. Diaz / MindaNews)