Esperon confident of peace pact signing by April

Esperon told a press conference here that the basis for his projection is the desire of the government, the MILF, and the people to "come to terms so that we could continue savoring the dividends of peace in Mindanao.”

He said he would not want to look at the contentious issues that brought about the impasse in the negotiations.

He identified as among the contentious issues the inclusion of barangays in the territory of the Bangsamoro’s ancestral domain.

"I would like to think there is enough basis for optimism to think of March or April," he said.

Esperon said this as the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) coordinating committees on cessation of hostilities (CCCH) met Tuesday in General Santos City to discuss "many substantive issues.”

The government’s CCCH is headed by  Brig. Gen. Eduardo Gurrea while the MILF’s CCCH is headed by Von Al Haq.

A tripartite meeting was later held by the Joint CCCH with the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT).

According to the MILF website, the Joint CCCH’s secretariat listed no less than 31 issues  in the agenda of the meeting.

The two committees, the website reported, dealt on issues like uncoordinated military operations, warrantless arrests, indiscriminate firing of guns, peace-keeping force, "extortion," blatant display of firearms, massing of troops, establishment of joint ceasefire monitoring posts, and relief and rehabilitation blockades.

The website reported they will also discuss various advocacy drives on the peace process aimed at informing the people on the benefit of the ceasefire and the peace talks.

The immediate restoration of the flow of water to the irrigation dam in some areas in Tapikan 2 and Kuta in Shariff Aguak  town in Maguindanao was also on the list for discussion.  Flow of water into  the area was reported blocked by a still unidentified group. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)