GPH, MILF in KL to work on annexes; “partners now, not adversaries”

KUALA LUMPUR (MindaNews/15 Nov) –  A month after the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), the government (GPH)  and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are back at the Palace of the Golden Horses hotel to buckle down to work on the annexes on power-sharing, wealth-sharing and normalization, “to complete a  comprehensive agreement by the end of the year.”

The technical working groups (TWGs) on power-sharing and wealth-sharing  have been meeting here since August but the TWG on Normalization was convened only on Monday with the MILF handing over its proposal to the GPH on Wednesday afternoon.

Unlike previous peace negotiations, the mood has changed as both parties no longer view each other as adversaries but as partners, GPH peace panel chair Marvic Leonen and MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal said.

Leonen told MindaNews that while the TWG  are facing “several challenges,  “it’s no longer adversarial.  It’s more on let’s work on this together.”

Iqbal agreed with Leonen’s observation. “It is more on problem-solving mode now,” he told MindaNews.

The T­­­WG meetings are held simultaneously.

Longest, biggest

This is the longest GPH-MILF negotiation in the last 15 years  — seven days from November 12 to 18 — longer  than last month’s six-day final round to complete the FAB.

This is also the biggest delegation for both the government and the MILF – 40 for the government and 15 from the MILF.

Each TWG has six members, three from each panel, with note-takers and observers that include members of the International Contact Group.

The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, signed on October 15 in Malacanang, provides for the creation of a new autonomous political entity named “Bangsamoro” which will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) by June 30, 2016.

The details, however, are to be fleshed out by the TWGs and the annexes supposed to be completed by December so that the 15-member Transition Commission (TransCom) can begin work, hopefully by January.

The TransCom, which will be created through an Executive Order and supported by Congressional resolutions, will begin operating as soon as the EO and Congressional resolutions are issued.

Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, told MindaNews on Monday that the EO is already with the Office of the Executive Secretary and should be out soon.

Normalization

Of the three components — power-sharing, wealth-sharing and normalization — the issue on normalization took the longest in the crafting of the FAB and may take the longest, too, in the crafting of the annex,  not only because the issue is contentious but also because the TWG was set up only last Monday.

The MILF had earlier pushed for a separate police force to which the GPH disagreed. The compromise that led to the completion of the FAB on October 6 was that both parties agreed to set up an independent commission “to recommend appropriate policing within the area.” The commission’s members would be representatives from the parties and they “may invite local and international experts on law enforcement to assist the commission in its work.”

The MILF’s TWG on Normalization submitted its proposal to the GPH TWG Wednesday afternoon, ended their session at around 3 p.m. for the GPH to study the proposal. Both agreed to resume the talks by 9 a.m. Thursday. They took a break at 10:07 a.m. upon the request of the GPH, resumed sessions around 2 p.m. and adjourned for the day at 4:25 p.m.

The FAB provides that the MILF “shall undertake a graduated program for decommissioning of its forces so that they are put beyond use.”

It also provides that “in a phased and gradual manner, all law enforcement functions shall be transferred from the Armed Forces of the Philippines(AFP) to the police force for the Bangsamoro.”

Both parties agreed to “continue negotiations on the form, functions and relationship of the police force of the Bangsamoro taking into consideration the results of the independent review process.

The TWG on Normalization is headed by Undersecretary Zenaida Brosas, Deputy Director-General of the National Security Council. Other members of the TWG are the panel’s Senior Military Advsier, Brig. Gen. Leo Cresente Ferrer and  Dr. Jennifer “Apple’ Oreta, consultant of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

The MILF’s TWG on Normalization  is headed by Mohamad Nasif head of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces’ Task Force Ittihad; MILF Ceasefire Committee chief Said Sheik and former ARMM Executive Secretary Naguib Sinarimbo.

Wile the MILF peace panel brought in its armed component, the BIAF, into the TWG on Normalization, the government peace panel brought on board additional members although as observers — OPAPP Undersecretary Luisito Montalbo, Jesus Doque of the  Department of Interior and Local Government, Prosecutor Susan Dacanay of the Department of Justice and Lt. Col. Haroun Al-Rashid Jaji of the Research and Doctrines Division of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Lt. Col. Francisco Felicidario III of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations of the Philippine Army. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

 

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/peace-process/2012/11/15/gph-milf-in-kl-to-work-on-annexes-partners-now-not-adversaries/

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