GPH, MILF in KL set up teams on power-sharing, wealth-sharing, territory

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 09 July) — The peace panels of the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are back in Kuala Lumpur on a three-day “special meeting” that started Tuesday, breaking into teams in an attempt to settle issues related to the final text of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law that, as President Aquino said on June 27, “both sides will fully support and endorse” to Congress.

The first day of the meeting, held at the Bellamy House, started at 9:35 a.m and ended at around 3 p.m. in deference to Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting.

Asked after the meeting if they had resolved some issues, MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal told MindaNews in a text message: “slow-paced movement.” GPH panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer did not reply but Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles told MindaNews in a text message, “basta they’re talking.”

MindaNews sent another text message to Ferrer and Iqbal on Tuesday morning on how Day 1 went.

Ferrer said, “Ok naman, may naaayos” (It’s okay, some issues are being settled).

Iqbal replied there is a “meeting of the mind.”

“All settled and signed agreements will be upheld as well as language provided therein,” he said, but declined to elaborate.

Iqbal said the panels “created two teams on power-sharing and wealth-sharing.”

Ferrer said a third team has been created for Wednesday: the team on territory.

The teams are looking into Malacanang’s comments and proposed revisions on the BTC draft’s provisions on power-sharing, wealth-sharing and territory.

First time

It is the first time the panels are back in Kuala Lumpur after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) on March 27, 2014.

Under the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed on October 12, 2012, the panels can be called upon beyond the signing of the CAB because both parties agreed that the negotiating panels “shall continue the negotiations until all issues are resolved and all agreements implemented” and that an exit agreement “officially terminating the peace negotiations may be crafted and signed by both parties if and only when all agreements have been fully implemented.”

Ferrer late Monday evening told MindaNews that the three-day “special meeting” is a “workshop” and that there would be “no speeches” when the meeting opens the next day because “di naman ito nego (this is not negotiation) but a workshop.”

In a press statement issued before she left Manila for Kuala Lumpur on Monday noon, Ferrer said the Bangsamoro Transition Commisison (BTC) in a resolution on July 3 elevated its concerns over the draft BBL to the panels “for clarification, discussion and resolution” of issues that may have been affected by the proposed revisions in the proposed BBL.

Ferrer said her panel “readily accepted the task” and together with the MILF Panel, the Malaysian Facilitator and the members of the International Contact Group, were going to meet in Kuala Lumpur “in a workshop that would thresh out the various substantive matters that have arisen from the BTC submission and the subsequent OP (Office of the President or Malacanang) review.”

She said members of the BTC will also be present “thereby ensuring close coordination and processing.”
Non-negotiables, negotiables

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Iqbal, MILF peace panel chair and concurrent chair of the BTC, had aired to President Aquino their concerns over the Malacanang-proposed revisions of the BTC draft during their meeting with him in Hiroshima on June 24.

The President, Ebrahim and Iqbal were speakers at The Consolidation for Peace for Mindanao (COP-6)

No details of the meeting were released except for the confirmation by Ebrahim that they raised their concerns over the proposed revisions to the BTC draft during their “15 to 20 minutes” meeting with the President just before he delivered his speech at the COP-6.

But on June 26, Iqbal broke his silence in a forum in Istanbul, Turkey where Ferrer was also a speaker. He said the Malacanang-proposed revisions “heavily diluted” the BTC’s draft, that if the proposed revisions were to be followed, the law that would come out would “worse than RA 9054,” the law governing the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), that in effect it would render the future Bangsamoro less autonomous than the ARMM that it seeks to replace.

Iqbal maintained that the MILF has a “very simple and straightforward” position on the BBL, that “all those explicitly expressed and provided for in the CAB will no longer be the subject of negotiations. They are finished and settled. It is therefore nonsensical to raise them anew.”

But Iqbal added that those provisions not expressly provided for in the CAB but were to be fleshed out by the BTC as part of its mandate, “could be the subjects of subsequent engagement between the Parties. If reasons and consistency prevail, there is no way this controversy cannot be settled.”

    

The BTC submitted its draft to Malacanang on April 22, hoping it would be transmitted to Congress with the Presidential certification of urgency when Congress resumed sessions after the Holy Week break on May 5. But Congress adjourned sine die on June 11 without receiving the draft.

Congress will reopen on July 28 with the President delivering his fifth – and second to the last — State of the Nation Address. The President’s six-year term ends on June 30, 2016, the same day that the “Bangsamoro” with its first set of elected officials, is supposed to be inaugurated.

BTC in KL

Iqbal as chair of BTC convened the body on July 3 with all 14 members present.

At the end of the session, the BTC passed a resolution expressing “serious concerns over some major revisions, modifications and alterations that deviated from the significant contents of the (CAB)” and elevated these to the panels for “clarification, discussion and resolution” of the issues affected by the proposed revisions “… in the higher interest of finding a lasting solution to the conflict in Mindanao.”

The BTC is a 15-member, MILF-led commission tasked to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). Eight of the members of the BTC were nominated by the MILF while seven were nominated by the GPH and appointed by the President in late February 2013.

The eight BTC members from the MILF are all members of its peace panel. Of the seven GPH members in the BTC, only Commissioner Johaira Wahab, former head of the GPH peace panel’s legal team, had served in the panel under then GPH panel chair Marvic Leonen.

The BTC has only 14 members now with the resignation of Wahab who reported to duty at the Department of Foreign Affairs where she is a Foreign Service Officer, after the BTC draft was submitted on April 22. Wahab was the lone commissioner who did not sign the draft law.

MindaNews sources said 11 members of the BTC are in Kuala Lumpur as observers – the remaining six from the GPH-nominated and five from the MILF.

MILF peace panel member and BTC member Robert Maulana Marohombsar Alonto, opted not to attend in protest of what he said is a “mongrelized” Basic Law.

Alonto in a post on his Facebook wall, wrote he “could no longer endure sitting opposite those people who want us to just ‘Imagine’ living out a fantasy that actually brings back and perpetuates the nightmare in our homeland.”

According to Alonto, the GPH panel during one of its last meetings, gave the MILF panel discs of John Lennon’s “Imagine” song. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/peace-process/2014/07/09/gph-milf-in-kl-set-up-teams-on-power-sharing-wealth-sharing-territory/

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