Everything’s set but the date of the talks

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/18 October) –  Everything’s set but the date of the talks.

The mechanisms on the ground that will monitor the peace talks and implementation of ceasefire and rehabilitation – the International Monitoring Team, International Contact Group, Civilian Protection Component, Joint Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, Ad Hoc Joint Action Group  — are all set to do their tasks but more than a month after the end of Ramadan, the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels have yet to meet.

The Civilian Protection Component (CPC) had its formal community launching Monday morning at the Estosan Hotel here, “primarily to inform the public of its existence and functions.”

After the third strike on the gong, Maj. Gen. Datuk Baharom bin Hamzah, Head of Mission of the IMT,  announced the official launching of the CPC and assisted the representatives of the four CPC groups in wearing their respective vests: white for the Mindanao Human Rights Action Center (MinHRAC); gray for the Mindanao Peoples’ Caucus; black for Mogop (Moslem Organization of Government Officials and Professionals): A Movement of Good People ; and light gray for the Non-Violent Peace Force.

Two Mondays ago, on October 4, the MPC’s All-Women CPC in the IMT was formally launched in Aleosan, North Cotabato.

The Terms of Reference of the CPC was signed on May 5 this year.

The CPC is tasked to “monitor, verify and report any possible violation of ceasefire, violence committed against civilians and observe compliance of the Parties on commitment to international and national humanitarian laws and human right laws.”

The CPC will continue to operate even if the IMT has ceased to operate.

In a press statement, the IMT said CPC is “also a channel for the public to file complaints on suspected infringement of humanitarian laws and human rights laws committed by the Parties.”

Complaints may be reported to the four members of the CPC or the Secretariat.

It said the CPC “will be active in support of all governmental agencies in monitoring all areas of Mindanao for a safe and secure (Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan) elections” on October 25.

President Aquino in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 26 had said he hoped the talks could begin after Ramadan. Ramadan ended September 9.

The government and MILF peace panels are just awaiting word from Malaysia which serves as talks facilitator, on when the talks would resume. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)