GPH peace panel: copy of final agreement made public before signing

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ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanews/19 May) – The government has assured residents here that the final agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will be made public before the panel signs it.

GPH peace panel chair Marvic Leonen gave this assurance during an executive session with city officials Thursday while Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process also assured representatives of civil society here Friday morning that no final agreement will be signed without government making it know to the people first.

Leonen repeated this assurance at the Multi-Stakeholders Caucus on the GPH-MILF Peace Talks held at the Bishops-Ulama Conference office in Davao City on Friday.

Deles told civil society representatives at the Lantaka Hotel here Friday that “there are no hidden agendas when it comes to the government’s negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) or with any group, for that matter.

“The promise of the government is that before there is an initialing of a document that is to be signed, it is going to be publicized,” she stressed.

Leonen met with city officials in an executive session Thursday and reiterated to them that the negotiations with the MILF are within the parameters set by President Benigno Simeon Aquino, that they have learned lessons from the past and that the agreement government will sign will be “doable and implementable.”

Leonen stressed that President Aquino is fully aware of the positions taken by local government units on the issues in the negotiations.

Zamboanga City is among the cities listed under “areas of autonomy” in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement. Residents here have been subjected to a plebiscite on inclusion in the autonomous region in 1977, 1989 and 2011 and have repeatedly said no to inclusion.

Mayor Celso Lobregat asked Leonen and Deles to shed light on the “GPH-MILF Decision Points on Principles as of April 2012,” which the panels signed on April 24 in Kuala Lumpur. It was the first major agreement signed by both panels under the 23-month old Aquino administration.

Lobregat said he would collate and put into writing all the points raised or discussed during the consultations and officially transmit the document to the offices of Deles and Leonen for consideration in the next round of talks set this month.

Lobregat said many of the decision points have to be reviewed and clarified as most of the points can be interpreted in several ways.

“These are all motherhood statements and when you get to the nitty-gritty that is where the problem arises,” he added.

He said in a peace agreement it is very important that people understand the meaning of each and every provision in the pact “because if you have an interpretation and the other side has its own interpretation that is where the problem will come.”

“Our point is, maybe if they consulted us before they actually signed it (decision points on principles), then maybe all these points could have been clarified,” he told reporters in an interview. (MindaNews)

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