GRP peace panel waiting for credentials of Malaysian facilitator

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/02 October) —  The government panel in the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is awaiting  Malaysia’s transmittal of the credentials of the facilitator so the talks under the Aquino administration can begin, government peace panel chair Marvic Leonen said.

“We will certainly start the process as soon as  Malaysia formally transmits the credentials of their facilitator,” Leonen, also dean of
the University of the Philippines College of Law told MindaNews in a telephone interview.

Malaysia has been the third party facilitator in the talks between the Philippine government and the MILF since 2001.

“Thereafter, we will request for an initial meeting between the two chairs of each panel to discuss the parameters of the facilitation and the contents of the first agenda between the parties. There are also some minor administrative matters that we need to discuss. Our panel hopes this to happen in a few weeks time,” he said.

MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal could not be reached for comment. An MILF source said he is out of the country. On September 20, Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines Dato’ Seri Dr. Ibrahim Saad told reporters the Malaysian government had yet to present the list of “would be facilitators” to President Aquino.

He declined to say if the former facilitator Datuk Othman bin Abdul Razzak, from the Office of Malaysian Prime Minister, would be among the names that would be submitted. “What do you think?” he replied.

President Aquino in his State of the Nation Address on July 26 had said he hopes the peace negotiations could start after Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting.

Ramadan ended September 9. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)