GPH-MILF comprehensive peace pact signed by yearend

KUALA LUMPUR (MindaNews/17 Nov) –  The annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro will be finished before the yearend,  the government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) reiterated Saturday in their joint statement at the end of the six-day talks at the Palace of the Golden Horses hotel here.

Government and MILF peace panel chairs Marvic Leonen and Mohagher Iqbal told MindaNews  they are confident that even as there are still several contentious issues,  the annexes would be completed before December 31, 2012.

This week’s round of talks was cut short by a day as both panels agreed to consult their respective principals and prepare for the next, and hopefully last, round in December.
“We will finish,” an optimistic Leonen said.  Iqbal was equally optimistic. “Yes, matatapos” (it will be finished), he said.

The FAB, which provides for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) by June 30, 2016, provides that the parties would work on the annexes and “complete a comprehensive agreement by the end of the year.”

Guide for TransCom

The annexes are intended to guide the Transition Commission (TransCom) when it drafts the  Bangsamoro Basic Law. The 15-member TransCom will be created as soon as President Benigno Simeon Aquino III issues an  Executive Order. Seven member swill come from the GPH and eight from the MILF, including the TransCom chair.

GPH peace panel chair Marvic Leonen and MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal sign joint statement in the presence of Malaysian facilitator Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed. MindaNews photo by Carolyn O. Arguillas

The one-page joint statement signed at 4 pm Saturday said the technical working groups (TWGs) on wealth-sharing and power-sharing  “made substantial progress in the crafting of the annexes  while the TWG on normalization, which convened for the first time this week, had “agreed on an outline of issues  and had initial positive exchanges on these matters.”

The panels, it said, “remain committed to complete the annexes before the end of the year.”

The TWGs handed over their respective joint reports to the peace panels during the plenary at 2 p.m.  with the TWGs on power and wealth sharing reportedly listing down their consensus points and points of divergence.

The TWGs on power and wealth sharing had been meeting every month here since August.  The TWG on normalization was convened only last Monday.

More than 9054

In both the power and wealth sharing TWGs, the major issue is how much more powers would be granted to the Bangsamoro than what has been granted to the ARMM under Republic Act 9054.

“It will be more than 9054… it cannot be less,”  Leonen told MindaNews Saturday morning.

Asked how much is “more,” Leonen replied that this is what the TWGs are discussing.  He defined “more” as “more that will be satisfactory to the MILF.”

Ma. Lourdes Lim,  NEDA regional director and chair of the GPH-TWG on wealth-sharing told MindaNews that the joint TWG has “put the details to the provisions on wealth sharing in the FAB and we came up with substantive inputs for the Transition Commission to consider but this will have to go to the panels. We are just recommendatory.”

Lim said the powers proposed for the Bangsamoro would be more than what RA 9054 provides. “9054 is the minimum. That is our reference point. That’s the baseline,” she said.

“Harder nut to crack”

Iqbal in his opening remarks on Monday had said that of the three – wealth and power sharing and normalization – the latter 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.”

National Security Council Undersecretary Zenonida Brosas, chair of the GPH-TWG on Normalization said she is confident they can finish their task because “pareho kami ng frame of mind” (we have the same frame of mind), referring to their MILF-TWG counterparts.

Signing of comprehensive peace pact

Leonen told MindaNews on Friday that there will be another signing for the comprehensive peace agreement, which he defines as “the Framework Agreement plus the annexes.”

Asked whether it will be grander than the signing of the FAB on October 15 in Malacanan Palace, Leonen said the panels have yet to discuss this.

GPH peace panel, technical working groups and secretariat after the closing rites Saturday afternoon.                   MindaNews photo by Carolyn O. Arguillas

But the signing of the comprehensive peace pact does not mean the panels will be disbanded.

Unlike in the GPH-Moro National Liberation Front peace agreements in 1976 and 1996 where the panels were disbanded after the signing, the GPH-MILF peace panels have agreed to continue their work beyond the signing of the 2012 comprehensive peace agreement

The FAB provides that at the end of the transition period, the GPH and MILF peace panels, together with the Malaysian facilitator and the third party monitoring team, “shall convene a meeting to review, assess or evaluate the implementation of all agreements and the progress of the transition” and “an ‘exit document’ officially terminating the peace negotiation may be crafted and signed by both parties if and only when all agreements have been fully implemented.”   (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/peace-process/2012/11/18/gph-milf-comprehensive-peace-pact-signed-by-yearend/


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