GPH-MILF peace nego on Annexes ends with tasks unfinished

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/16 December) – The government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels ended this week’s talks on the Annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) with no joint statement on what transpired during the four-day negotiations in Kuala Lumpur and no date set for the next meeting.

MindaNews sources in Kuala Lumpur said the two panels, which are supposed to finish before yearend the Annexes on Power-Sharing, Wealth-Sharing, Normalization and on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, extended by one day their December 12 to 14 schedule and ended at around 7:15 p.m. Saturday, December 15, with none of the Annexes finished.

Signed on October 15  in Malacanang in the presence of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, Malaysian Prime Minister  Dato’ Sri Mohammad Hajib Bin Tun Abdul Razak, MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, the diplomatic corps, civil society, the Aquino Cabinet, the MILF Central Committee and commanders, the FAB provides for the creation of  a new autonomous political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) by 2016.

The FAB also provides that the parties would “work further on the details of the Framework Agreement “ and “complete a comprehensive agreement by the end of the year.”

“We were working on four annexes. We made considerable progress,” Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, the new government (GPH) peace panel chair, told MindaNews in a text message late Saturday night in response to MindaNews’ query on the talks ending without a Joint Statement and date for the next meeting.

MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, on the other hand told MindaNews in a text message early Friday that the four technical working groups on the Annexes “moved forward with substantial gains. But as a whole, there is a technical impasse. No closing program, no joint statement, no date for next talks.”

Both declined to elaborate on their statements or to respond to follow-up questions raised by MindaNews.

In November, at the first talks on the annexes scheduled November 12 to 18, both panels agreed to end the negotiations a day earlier to consult their respective principals on the unresolved issues.

In the December talks, they agreed to extend the talks by one more day but while “considerable progress” was made according to Ferrer and while they “moved forward with substantial gains” according to Iqbal,  not one of the Annexes was completed.

99% complete

MindaNews sources who requested not to be named said progress had, indeed, been made by the the technical working groups on Power-Sharing, Wealth-Sharing and Normalization.

The same sources said the Power-Sharing group had accomplished 97%  of their task, that there was a “breakthrough” in the Wealth-Sharing Annex and that there was significant progress in the Normalization Annex.

The sources added that the Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities was “99% complete” but the parties were deadlocked on a major issue that the for the MILF is ‘non-negotiable:’ the leadership of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the body that will take over the ARMM as soon as the Bangsamoro Basic Law is ratified.

The same sources said the MILF, which will lead the 15-person Transition Commission based on the FAB formula of an all-Bangsamoro commission composed of seven from the GPH and eight from the MILF including the TransCom chair,  is not amenable to the GPH proposal for a Bangamoro-led BTA instead of an MILF-led BTA.

The GPH, according to sources, is pushing for a two-track convergence of the MILF and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) peace processes through the BTA.  An MILF source told MindaNews: “parang kami ang nagsaing, iba ang kakain” (it’s like we did the cooking but not the eating).

“It’s not a formula for convergence but a formula for chaos,” the source said.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles had earlier said that the seven members selected by the GPH for the TransCom would include representatives from women, Lumads (indigenous peoples) and the MNLF.

Factions

Citing leadership issues, among others, the late Salamat Hashim, the first chair of the MILF, broke away from the MNLF to form the “New MNLF.” The latter was renamed to MILF in the early 1980s.

Hashim was MNLF Vice chair when he bolted the MNLF under chair Nur Misuari, to form the MILF, after the 1976 Tripoli Agreement collapsed.

The MNLF broke into three factions –  MNLF under Misuari, the MILF under Hashim and MNLF Reformist Group under Dimas Pundato  – but the latter disbanded immediately after Corazon Aquino was installed President by the People Power revolt in 1986.

The MNLF under Misuari talked peace with the Aquino administration but no agreement was reached until the signing of the 1996 “Final Peace Agreement” under the Ramos administration.

The MNLF then took over the leadership of the ARMM and other transitory implementing mechanisms such as the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development and the Consultative Assembly. The MNLF later complained that the agreement was not fully implemented and much later broke again into several factions citing issues on leadership, among others.

Misuari criticized the peace process with the MILF as illegal and described the signing of the  2012 FAB as a “tripartite conspiracy” of the GPH, MILF and Malaysia.

The FAB provides that upon promulgation and ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the ARMM shall be deemed abolished and “all devolved authorities shall be vested in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority during the interim period.”

The FAB also provides that when the BTA is in place, “the ministerial form and Cabinet system of government shall commence” and that the BTA “may reorganize the bureaucracy into institutions of governance appropriate thereto.”

 

The 15-person Transition Commission that will draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law, among other tasks, is to be “created by an Executive Order and supported by Congressional Resolutions.”
Deles in late October said the EO would be issued after the Undas in early November. As of December 16, no EO has been issued. Congress will take a break for the holidays on December 22 to January 20.

Third time

This is the third time in the 30-month peace talks under the Aquino administration that the panels ended their talks without a joint statement and with no date set for the next meeting.

The first was during the August 22-24 talks last year when the supposed three-day talks adjourned abruptly on the second day after the MILF peace panel rejected the government’s proposed “three for one” formula and then government peace panel chair Marvic Leonen shot back with “we reject your rejection.”

The second time the panels did not issue a Joint Statement was in May, just a month after the two panels signed on April 24 the “GPH-MILF Decision Points on Principles as of April 2012.”

The Joint Statement, usually less than ten paragraphs and issued at the end of the talks, describes the progress of the negotiations, though in carefully worded language, announces the month when the parties will meet again and expresses their appreciation to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak and members of the International Contact Group  composed of  Japan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Conciliation Resources, Muhammadiyah, and The Asia Foundation.  (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

 

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2012/12/16/gph-milf-peace-nego-on-annexes-ends-with-tasks-unfinished/

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