GPH, MILF end talks on annexes a day earlier to consult principals, prepare for next round

KUALA LUMPUR (MindaNews/16 November) – This week’s round of talks on the annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) will end on Saturday, November 17 instead of Sunday as both government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels agreed to consult their respective principals on the still unresolved issues and prepare for the next and hopefully, last round, a few weeks from now.

The Technical Working Groups (TWGs) on power-sharing, wealth-sharing and normalization, ended their sessions for this round at 6 p.m. Friday with their respective joint reports to be submitted to the plenary during the closing rites on Saturday.

The reports are expected to cite the progress of their work, the consensus points and the issues that have yet to be resolved.

The first to end their session was the TWG on Normalization,  the “harder nut to crack,” as MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal described it in his opening remarks on Monday.

Members from the GPH-MILF TWG came out of their meeting room with GPH peace panel chair Marvic Leonen at 6 p.m., their laughter reverberating in the foyer at the Lower Ground floor of the Palace of the Golden Horses hotel.

 

TWG on Normalization after the session Friday (L to R): MILF-TWG chair Mohamad Nasif and member Naguib Sinarimbo with GPH peace panel chair Marvic Leonen, GPH-TWG chair Zenaida Brosas and member Apple Oreta.                         MIndaNews photo by Carolyn O. Arguillas

“More angels than devils now?” MindaNews asked, referring to Leonen’s preference for “angels” in the details  “rather than the devils.”

“What devils?” they asked, laughing.

“There are no devils,” said Undersecretary Zenaida Brosas, Deputy Director-General of the National Security Council and chair of the GPH-TWG on Normalization. Brosas was with TWG members Brig. Gen. Leo Cresente Ferrer, the panel’s Senior Military Adviser and Dr. Jennifer “Apple’ Oreta, consultant of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), adviser Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, peace panel member;  and observer OPAPP Undersecretary Luisito Montalbo.

Also in the same circle were the chair of the MILF-TWG on Normalization , Mohamad Nasif, the head of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces’ Task Force Ittihad; MILF Ceasefire Committee chief Said Sheik and lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, who was ARMM Executive Secretary from December 2009 to December 22, 2011.
“Devils” and “Angels”

Leonen in his opening remarks last Monday had said he does not believe that the devil is in the details.

President Benigno Simeon Aquino, MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal had repeatedly said “the devil is in the details” in referring to the difficult work on the annexes.

Aquino at the signing of the FAB on October 15 in Malacanang acknowledged that much work remains to be done in order to fully reap the fruits of the FAB. “We have commitments to fulfill, people to lead, and dreams to achieve. The details to be laid out in the annexes, in particular, provide us with a solid opportunity to expand the common ground whose principles we have already articulated through the agreement. “

The President said he is “confident that our faith in each other, and in the Filipino people, will not waver, and in fact will only grow even stronger in the years to come.” But he also noted that “ as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. We are now at the beginning of a comprehensive agreement that will map out the detailed steps, detailed commitments, and detailed programs that will lead to the fulfillment of our long-term goals.”

In explaining his preference for “angels,” Leonen explained: “There has always been something wrong with that metaphor. I think it is more that the ‘angels’ will be found in the details.  Angels because the way we craft our agreements will unlock more opportunities for our peoples to achieve a life that they deserve. We should look forward at working the details in order to find solutions rather than to find the problems. Hence the angels, rather than the devils.” (see other story)

“Very complex, very long process”

Iqbal said normalization is the “harder nut to crack” because “it is not only about disposition of troops, weapons, decommissioning and policing, but it is more importantly tied up with implementation of the Agreement on the ground, which in turn breeds trust. Trust is something that cannot happen instantly especially between former adversaries. You have to patiently build and nurture it.”

MindaNews sources said the GPH and MILF TWGs on Normalization have narrowed down the issues, based on the FAB provisions on normalization, into eight: decommissioning of the MILF,  redeployment of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police,  interim internal security, policing, Joint Normalization Committee, monitoring and evaluation, development trust fund and transitional justice.

MILF chair Murad in his press conference in the MILF’s Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on October 27 acknowledged that normalization is “a very complex and very long process.”

“I think what  is important is there will  be a detailed agreement on normalization and as far as implementation is concerned, it will take a long time. You know in the case of..  the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland, until  now they have not completed the normalization process. They have signed agreement I think seven years ago but until now they have not yet finally implemented the normalization process. What is important is there is agreement and both parties want to move forward,” he said.

Complete by yearend

The FAB, which provides for the setting up of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity by June 30, 2016,  states as its last provision that the parties will “work further on the details of the Framework Agreement in the context of this document and complete a comprehensive agreement by the end of the year.”

The TWG on Normalization was set up only last Monday. The TWGs on Power-sharing and Wealth-sharing  had their first meeting  in August and had been meeting every month thereafter.

The TWG on wealth-sharing ended their session at 6:04 p.m.  MindaNews sources said the two parties were not able to move as fast as expected. Earlier this week, they had reportedly identified ten issues and agreed to divide that task, drafting five each for the Annex on Wealth-sharing.

In the crafting of the text,  some proposals, an observer told MindaNews,  are still far apart.

In the TWG on Power-sharing,  Undersecretary Chito Gascon of the Office of Political Affairs , a member of the GPH-TWG, told MindaNews they were now down to only three issues “for further discussion,” out of the 15 they listed. On Thursday afternoon, he said they were “down to five.”

Gascon said they classified, as the negotiations progressed, the issues from “contentious” to “unresolved” to “further discussion.”  (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

 

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/peace-process/2012/11/17/gph-milf-end-talks-on-annexes-a-day-earlier-to-consult-principals-prepare-for-next-round/


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