No sked yet for GRP, MILF talks resumption

“GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) must abide by consensus points to proceed. If not, talks will die,” he warned.

Civil society groups have responded to the stalled peace negotiations with rallies calling on both sides to resume the talks.

The government and MILF peace panels were supposed to have met on December 15 and 16 in Kuala Lumpur to finalize the draft of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, in preparation for the signing of a comprehensive peace pact.

But the talks, scheduled to start at 10 a.m. on December 15 at the Sheraton Imperial, did not push through.  Instead, Datuk Othman bin Abdul Razak, the Malaysian facilitator informed government peace panel chair Garcia that the MILF had called off the meeting.

Iqbal in a December 15 statement from Kuala Lumpur which he signed as MILF information chief, said the government’s draft agreement was  “totally unacceptable.”

He said the government panel “reneged from the consensus points on the four strands of Ancestral Domain …This stance of the GRP Peace Panel has virtually jeopardized the integrity of the peace process and to continue with the talks would virtually turn it into a circus. The government Peace Panel has introduced extraneous and new matters not discussed and taken upon by the Parties during the previous exploratory talks on Ancestral Domain that led to the signing of several consensus points on Ancestral Domain.”

The Ancestral Domain agenda was divided into four sections – concept, territory, resources and

Iqbal told MindaNews in a telephone interview on December 18 that they opted to call off the meeting because “if we did not, we would have ended in an impasse again.”

The talks had ended in an impasse in September 2006 on the aspect of territory under the ancestral domain agenda. It was only on October 24, 2007 when the two panels finally broke the 13-month impasse, expressing “deep satisfaction over the successful resolution of major issues to overcome the impasse.”

In their October 24 Joint Statement, Garcia and Iqbal said the peace process “is firmly back on track towards the holding of the Formal Talks before the end of the year, thereby concluding the negotiations on Ancestral Domain.”

The two panels met again in Kuala Lumpur in November and were supposed to meet December to  finalize the Memorandum of Agreement on the consensus points on the four aspects of Ancestral Domain: the earlier agreed upon concept, resources and governance, and the last to be resolved – territory.

Garcia told MindaNews they’re “still working harder” on the draft agreement. But he stressed  “hindi na natin patagalin yan”  [we won’t allow this to drag on].

He, however, declined to give details on the new draft they will be presenting. (MindaNews)

Comments

comments