No annex signed but GPH, MILF sign TOR on Third Party Monitoring Team

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/25 January) –  The government (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels ended their five-day peace talks in Kuala Lumpur at 5:25 p.m. Friday, without completing any of the four annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).

The panels, however, issued a Joint Statement claiming the talks “successfully ended” with both parties “achieving a milestone” with the signing of the Terms of Reference for the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT), the body that will “review, assess, evaluate and monitor the implementation of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its Annexes.”

The panels will identify the members of the TPMT “within one month,” the Joint Statement said.

Under  Sec. 11 of  the FAB’s Chapter 7  (Transition and Implementation), the TPMT is to be composed of “international bodies, as well as domestic groups to monitor the implementation of all agreements.”

Sec. 12 provides that at the end of the transition period, the GPH and MILF peace panels, the Malaysian Facilitator and the TPMT “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 negotiations “ may be crafted and signed by both Parties if and only when all agreements have been fully implemented.”

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.

In their Joint Statement Friday, the panels announced the extension of the tours of duty of the Malaysian-led  International Monitoring Team (IMT) and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) for another year  “in recognition of their important roles in the peace process, without prejudice to adjustments that may be needed pursuant to developments in the crafting of the Annexes to the FAB.”

Progress on the negotiations on the Annexes was mentioned in the Joint Statement only on the third of the six-paragraph statement. It said the panels “expressed satisfaction on the continuing progress of the discussions on the Annexes to the FAB,” agreed to meet again in February and  are “confident that the Annexes will be completed and signed at the soonest possible time.”

Draft  only

“We were able to resolve various issues across the four annexes,” GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer told MindaNews in a text message from KL Friday night.

“The Technical Working Group was able to complete a draft annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities which was received by the Panels for final review of our respective principals. At the same time, we have extended the mandates of the IMT and the AHJAG,” she said.

The IMT is mandated to monitor the ceasefire agreements between the GPH and MILF “in order to create a conducive environment for peace negotiations and development initiatives in the conflict-affected areas of Mindanao.”  The IMT was first deployed in 2004, its mandate renewed annually.

The AHJAG on the other hand is a joint team against criminal elements operating in “MILF areas/communities, in order to pursue and apprehend such criminal elements.” The group operates in tandem with their respective Coordinating Comitteees on the Cessation of Hostilities.”

Unfinished

“Hindi talaga natapos (We weren’t able to finish) but almost settled everything. Due diligence na lang ang kailangan” (Due diligence is all we need),  MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal told MindaNews in a text message Friday evening.

In his opening statement on Monday, Iqbal was certain they would not be able to finish the four annexes to the FAB this week but hoped they could “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 her opening statement on Monday, Ferrer said it is expected that “we will get worked up in the minutest details” and that “we will once again tangle with words and ruffle emotions.”

But she stressed 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.”

President Aquino on December 18 signed Executive Order 120 creating the  Transition Commission (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, the 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. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/peace-process/2013/01/26/no-annex-signed-but-gph-milf-sign-tor-on-third-party-monitoring-team/

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