Moro leader to GMA: Save peace talks

Prof. Abhoud Syed M. Lingga, executive director of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies, urged the government to sign with the MILF the consensus points reached between the two parties for the last three years in order for the negotiations to move forward.

“The consensus points are good starting points for government and MILF to talk on any power-sharing arrangement,” he said in a statement.

Talks between the two parties hit a snag last December 15, 2007 when the MILF negotiating panel refused to meet its GRP counterpart because the government draft of a proposed memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain did not contain much of the consensus points earlier agreed by the two parties, he said.

The GRP also inserted a provision which states that the implementation of the agreement will have to follow constitutional process, he added.

Lingga said he doubted the government’s position that the consensus points will infringe on the constitution. He cited that the government is now offering federalism to the MILF which is not provided for in the constitution.

“If government can offer federalism, why can it not sign the consensus points?” he asked.

“To resolve sovereignty-based conflicts, like the conflict between government and the Bangsamoro people, there is need for new political thinking on the part of government,” he said.

“The problem in Mindanao is political in nature, and what is needed is political decision on the part of the highest leadership of the country. If there are legal problems the leadership has to initiate the reinterpretation, repeal, or amendment of laws that are obstacles to the political decision,” he added.

Lingga stressed that the MILF is objecting to “any provision requiring observance of constitutional process because it is violation of the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ reached by the GRP and MILF to re-start the negotiations in 2001.”
“Just to have the talks re-started in 2001 after the all-out war in year 2000, the GRP and MILF had the understanding that the issue of Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity over the Bangsamoro homeland as well as the use of the Philippine constitution as basis of the negotiations should not be raised by the Philippine peace panel,” he recalled.

“On the other hand, the MILF should not table the discussion on the issue of Bangsamoro independence,” he said.

He said the phrase “constitutional process” in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement caused the talks between the GRP and the Moro National Liberation Front to drag for 20 years.

He also noted that the phrase “constitutional process” has made the 1996 peace accord ineffective in resolving the Bangsamoro issue. (MindaNews)