MILF cries “bad faith” over missing consensus point in publication of GRP-MILF Declaration; GRP says it acted on “good faith” and will re-publish

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07June) — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has complained over the omission in the newspaper publication Sunday of what for them is the most important point in the six-point section of the “Declaration of Continuity for Peace Negotiations” the MILF and Philippine government (GRP) signed on June 3 in Kuala Lumpur.

“We will protest if no erratum is issued,” Datu Michael Mastura, senior member of the MILF peace panel said.

The Declaration and a copy of the closure statement of government peace panel chair Rafael Seguis, were published as a one-page advertisement on page 8 of the Philippine Star and page A17 of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sunday.

The Philippine government and MILF ended nine years of peace negotiations under the Arroyo administration with the signing on June 3 in Kuala Lumpur of a two-page “Declaration of Continuity for Peace Negotiations.”

It was the first time government had the contents of a peace document published as a one page advertisement in national newspapers. A one-page ad costs around P200,000.

The original Declaration signed in Kuala Lumpur lists six points of consensus on an Interim Agreement ”with a view of moving towards the Comprehensive Compact to bring about a negotiated political settlement.”

The six points are

– “new formulas that permanently respond to the legitimate aspirations of the Bangsamoro people for just peace, freedom founded on parity of esteem, equal treatment for their identity, ethos, and rights and for the Bangsamoro as a whole to exercise self-governance on the basis of consent in accordance to an agreed framework which shall be negotiated and adopted by the Parties;

– “in good faith, building on prior consensus points achieved, these negotiations and their results will proceed on the basis of consent and courses of action free of any imposition in order to provide the parties definitive commitment to their success for peace settlement;

– “the ultimate goals of the talks is to consider new modalities to end the armed hostilities with responsibility to protect and for human security, in addition to resolve the legitimate grievances and claims for the people of Moro ancestry and origin;

– “in reframing the consensus points on Ancestral Domain, respect the existing property and community rights, taking into account in particular the rights of indigenous peoples in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;

– “as a general principle, indigenous peoples who originally inhabit particular constituent units shall receive protection and enjoy equal rights similar to those enjoyed by the Moro’s taking into account in addition to economic and geographical criteria, their individual and communal property rights, cultural integrity, customary beliefs, historical and community traditions;

– “Agreed upon texts and signed instruments on the cessation of hostilities and security agreements guidelines and development initiatives and rehabilitation guidelines to be subsequently incorporated in a comprehensive text of the compact agreement.”

The second point, which starts with “in good faith….” was missing in the one-page ad in both papers.

The government peace panel said the omission was not deliberate. Ryan Mark Sullivan, head of the GRP panel secretariat told MindaNews Sunday that an employee inadvertently omitted the consensus point in the process of encoding.

Sullivan said they were already negotiating for the Declaration to be published again in the same papers by Monday, with an erratum.

Datu Michael Mastura, senior member of the MILF peace panel, acknowledged the Department of Foreign Affairs’ website uploaded the contents of the Declaration with no missing point.

The Phiilppine Star on Monday printed the original version of the document, complete with signatures and initials while the Philippine Daily Inquirer published an erratum Monday and will re-publish the original version Tuesday, said Sullivan. (MindaNews)

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