GPH-MILF talks: Leonen seeks ‘third way’ peace formula

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/08 September) — The chief government negotiator in peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) urged delegates to a two-day conference here to find an alternative formula that can bridge the gap between the peace proposals of both parties.

“Here is the MILF formula and here is the three-in-one. There is a third way, which I would invite your participation in drafting it,” Dean Marvic Leonen told participants to the Second National Solidarity Conference on Mindanao.

The MILF has submitted a Comprehensive Compact containing the proposal to create a Bangsamoro sub-state as the way of resolving the decades-old Mindanao problem.

Government on the other hand submitted a counter-proposal, a “three-in-one” framework for negotiations that includes a development package, reforming the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and correcting the narratives of the Moro history.

But MILF chair Al-haj Murad Ebrahim said they need not negotiate with government if the latter will only insist on the “doables” because they can do anything and no one can bar them from doing it.” He called the two proposals “heaven and earth”.

Leonen, who was main speaker in the conference, however, said that the government panel does not believe that the proposals were poles apart.

Leonen, apparently justifying why they have yet to present details of their proposal, said: “We are trying to do a very difficult balance and we believe that the negotiations can be faster if we keep some information from the public.”

The government proposal, he said, “is not a done proposal but a document in progress, a working document,” stressing further that his panel is “not close to certain ideas with respect to our proposal.”

The MILF said that the government proposal contained only around 15 percent of their proposed Comprehensive Compact.

But Leonen said that differences are normal in any negotiations, as he called on the MILF negotiators to open their proposal to “de-framing.”

“Negotiation always implies differences, which is natural. There is unity at this time among the principals, which is the primacy of the peace process,” the government chief negotiator said referring to the Tokyo agreement between President Aquino and Murad to fast-track the negotiations.

The MILF earlier said that the government’s proposal contained “doables,” like the development package, which it could do even outside of the framework of peace talks.

Leonen countered they were just inviting the MILF to partner with them in the implementation of such projects. “Government can do it alone but we offer to partner with MILF. If the MILF does not like, then government will pursue.”

Despite the differences in the respective proposals of the government and the MILF, Leonen believed that both panels are towards one direction.

“Our final destination is the same and I do not mean just peace in general but concrete ways by which stakeholders can support,” he said.

He admitted that they also engaged in “posturing,” but he emphasized that “the debate on sub-state and genuine autonomy is a ghost.”

He said the working instruction from President Aquino is for them “not to promise what I cannot deliver,” adding, what the Chief Executive wanted is “something that can be delivered in four years and 10 months.”

Leonen was accompanied by all government peace panel members and some military officials.

“­­This forum is so important that I brought our entire panel with us along with some military officials,” he said.

The conference, organized by church and peace advocacy groups in Mindanao, was an effort of stakeholders to contribute in narrowing down the “heaven and earth” gap between the government and MILF peace proposals. (Romy Elusfa/MindaNews Contributor)

 

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2011/09/09/gph-milf-talks-leonen-seeks-%e2%80%98third-way%e2%80%99-peace-formula/

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