For this week’s GPH-MILF talks, Iqbal says finish at least 2 of 4 annexes

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 January) – Apparently convinced they will not be able to finish all four annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) in this week’s peace talks in Kuala Lumpur, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal says he hopes “we can settle at least two of the Annexes.”

“The challenge before us now is to come up with results. If we cannot finish all the Annexes, at least we can settle at least two of the Annexes.  I am looking at Power-sharing and Modalities and Arrangement Annexes as possible areas of breakthrough,” Iqbal said in his opening statement at the resumption of the  peace talks today at the Palace of the Golden Horses Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

“Any failure is not good for all of us especially to the party that appears unreasonable or recalcitrant,” Iqbal said in his statement, a copy of which was emailed to MindaNews, explaining that the eyes of the public and the international community “are staring at us intently.”

As agreed upon in the FAB, the two panels were supposed to have completed by December 31, 2012 the annexes on Power-sharing, Wealth-sharing, Normalization, and Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, to complete the comprehensive peace pact.

The panels ended their December talks with no joint statement and no date for resumption of talks.

In her New Year’s message, GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said she was optimistic “it should not take more than two months to finish the four annexes.”

By then, Ferrer said,  the 15-member Transition Commission (TransCom) “should have been fully organized and ready to build on the terms laid out by the Panels in the Annexes.”

“The future is on track,” she said .

Minutest details

In her opening statement, a copy of which was sent to MindaNews by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Ferrer said, “expect that we will get worked up in the minutest details. Expect that we will once again tangle with words and ruffle emotions.”

But Ferrer said the goals remain the same: “to establish a Bangsamoro government that will enjoy the blessings of meaningful political and fiscal autonomy; to get to this end through a peaceful transition that will enable the MILF to test and prove its brand of leadership, jumpstart the socio-economic development in the communities, and forever still the guns in the erstwhile conflict-affected region; and to achieve healing, reconstruction and the human security of the peoples, groups and sectors in the region.”

She said skeptics have asked them “what makes you so sure that this time around it will be different? That not another armed group will arise asking for the same things. That governance will be better and not worse.”

“We tell them: we do not have all the answers, but we have to try. The alternative is to be left with the status quo that is unacceptable,” she said, emphasizing that this time, “our aim is transformation and empowerment, not patronage. The new institutions shall be inclusive. There shall be transparency.”

“We have all learned from the lessons of the past,” said Ferrer, the first woman to head the government peace panel negotiating with the Bangsamoro.

Ferrer assured that the GPH panel has “no other interest” than to complete the annexes.

“We are not politicians. Our task is to assist the President realize his vision of peace and progress for Mindanao where the MILF is a trustworthy partner,” she said.

Comprehensive pact

The four annexes and the FAB are to form the comprehensive peace pact.

Signed on October 15 last year, the FAB 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.

President Aquino on December 18 signed Executive Order 120 creating the  TransCom that would prepare the groundwork for  the setting up of the Bangsamoro. The House of Representatives and Senate passed resolutions in support of the EO, before both houses went on Christmas break.

The TransCom’s main task is to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The President has yet to name the 15-member TransCom, eight of whom would be from the MILF and seven from the GPH.

Delays

Iqbal said the  annexes have not been completed because the issues are “simply hard and contentious.”

But Iqbal said there are other reasons. He said he has “great reservations on the current manner and rate we are conducting ourselves in the recent talks,”  that there are “many refrains, like a song, that should not have obstructed our way or discussed at all.”

He pointed to the concepts already agreed upon in previous signed documents or already earlier given to the ARMM. “They should not consume our time and effort, or tax the goodwill of the parties. These things should not be offered again and again. These are settled issues and are given,” he said.

In the Wealth-Sharing annex, Iqbal said the technical working groups “continue to lock up horns on the current dismal financial status of the ARMM and the perceived incapacity of any new Bangsamoro entity to rise above this pathetic situation especially in relation to administering the taxes especially the base and collection.”

“It appears that the parties cannot agree that the issue should be appreciated first in terms of principles and concepts (i.e., fiscal autonomy for the new entity), the power to tax which must be devolved to it in order to be able to stand on its feet, sharing of revenues and resources, and then the administrative or implementation aspect of whether or not the new entity is capable of. If it is capable, then let it do the tasks immediately, if not, then the parties can agree on the timetable,” he said.

He urged the GPH panel to “ maximize their offer to the Bangsamoro people through this peace process,” adding that “any diluted offer is only slowing down the process. It is not helping us in any way.”  (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/peace-process/2013/01/21/for-this-weeks-gph-milf-talks-iqbal-says-finish-at-least-2-of-4-annexes/


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