Palace to name new panel chair in peace talks with MILF

PASIG CITY (MindaNews/15 July) – Malacanang will announce at 11 a.m. today the new government panel chair in the peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as Mindanao’s peace groups continue handing over names for possible inclusion in the five-person Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) peace panel.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles told MindaNews late Wednesday night that only the chair will be named at 11 a.m. Thursday pending the completion of the four other seats in the panel. Two more seats need to be filled, she said.

Deles said the concerns raised by various groups were considered in the choice of the panel members.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda will read President Benigno Aquino’s  statement naming his choice of peace panel chair at the 2nd floor of the Malacanang Press briefing room, after which Deles will give an update on the peace process and a press conference will follow.

In his inaugural address on June 30, President Aquino devoted a paragraph to Mindanao, saying, “my government will be sincere in dealing with all the peoples of Mindanao. We are committed to a peaceful and just settlement of conflicts, inclusive of the interests of all – may they be Lumads, Bangsamoro or Christian.”

In Mindanao, Fr. Eliseo Mercado, Jr., executive director of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) and convenor of Kusog Mindanaw told MindaNews by phone Wednesday afternoon: “I go by the sentiment of Kusog Mindanaw. The chair should be a Mindanawon and better still, an all Mindanawon panel.”

Fatmawati Salapuddin of the Lupah Sug Bangsamoro Women said the panel chair may “not necessarily (be a Mindanawon) “but must have a clear orientation and understanding on the Bangsamoro.  After all, we have to persuade the entire country on a negotiated solution.”

Mary Ann Arnado, secretary-general of the Mindanao Peoples’ Caucus, told MindaNews the panel “must have women and Mindanao representation, incorruptible and committed towards making the peace talks finally succeed through a political settlement of the armed conflict.  It must be able to effectively communicate and engage the public on the issues discussed in the negotiation and convince the people to rally behind their efforts.”

The new peace panel, she added, “ will have on their shoulders the burden of carrying the DIFFERENCE between success and failure in the talks.  Given the hope and the changes promised by P-Noy (President Aquino), this panel is duty bound to show real changes to the peoples of Mindanao especially Bangsamoro nation sooner than later.”

Historian  Rudy Rodil, peace panel member in the negotiations with the Moro National Liberation Front (1992 to 1996) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (until August 2008), said the chair must be a “Mindanawon familiar with tri-people dynamics and has experience  managing it.”

It is also important that the chair “knows  how to deal with the President” and is “acquainted with how to empower people for self reliance. “

Abdulbasit Benito, executive director of the Bangsamoro Center for Just Peace in Cotabato City, said the chair “must have full confidence and mandate  from the President so that she or he is not to be denied, disowned or disavowed as what happened to the GRP panel that negotiated the MOA-AD. Although Midnanawon is a big advantage, he/she should have broad understanding of the issue of BangsaMoro right to self-determination, and great knowledge of Mindanao history. “

For former MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal (July 2003-June 2010),  said he is “not very  particular about the person (whether or not he is a Mindanawon). “

“What is important is they are clothed with authority . Knowing the peace process and the problem is also important.  Knowledgeable and with clout,” he said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

[this is a corrected version. Thursday evening in the original copy should have read Wednesday evening and Friday should have read Thursday]

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/peace-process/2010/07/15/palace-to-name-new-panel-chair-in-peace-talks-with-milf/

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