Deles urges greater public participation in Mindanao peace process

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/04 May) — The government wants greater public participation in the Mindanao peace process, Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said.

Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles . OPAPP PhotoDeles appealed Thursday to the public to study the issues surrounding the peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to be able to contribute to the crafting of a final peace agreement.

“Read and study. You will see how broad and deep the GPH-MILF peace process is. You will understand how much there is that needs to be discussed on the peace table. Ask if there are things that need to be further explained and help in crafting an agreement that is acceptable to the majority,” she said in a statement.

Deles stressed the value of citizen participation in the peace process, saying that ordinary citizens should take part in supporting and guarding the peace talks.

Last month, both parties reached a significant stride with the signing of the “Decision Points on Principles” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Deles said that “the milestone document will dismiss negative feedback that nothing is happening on the peace table.”

The document, signed during the 27th exploratory talks in Malaysia last month, shall serve as the framework in the discussion and formulation of the comprehensive peace compact.

Mario Victor F. Leonen, government chief negotiator in talks with the MILF, said making public the 10-point document is part of government’s policy for “inclusivity and transparency so that the people can discuss, debate and provide inputs.”

He said that they hope to sign a peace agreement with the MILF “with due and deliberate speed.”

“Due time means we will sign as soon as possible because we need to address the roots of armed conflict so the development in the region and the entire country can be aided by this peace process,” Leonen said

MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim earlier urged the Moro people to pray for the success of the amity talks with the recent breakthrough in the 15-year negotiations spanning four administrations.

“This is a breakthrough in the almost two-year drought in talks under the Aquino administration,” Murad said in the rebels’ website.

Last August, President Benigno S. Aquino III and Murad met in Tokyo in a bid to move the peace process forward.

Japan is a member of the International Contact Group (ICG) and the International Monitoring Team, bodies that are involved in the peace process between the government and the MILF.

Following the signing of the “Decision Points on Principles,” Murad reiterated the Front’s commitment to forged a comprehensive compact agreement to end the Mindanao conflict.

Aquino wants the final peace accord inked before he steps down from power in 2016.

Murad described last month’s agreement “as a leap forward,” but cautioned the Moro people not to be complacent.

“The road ahead is more rugged and tricky than what has been achieved so far,” the MILF chairman noted. “The real test of the success of the talks hinges on the conclusion of agreements on the substantive issues like the power-sharing, wealth-sharing, and extent of territory of the new Moro entity.”

Murad appealed to the international community, particularly members of the ICG, to continue supporting the Mindanao peace process to sustain the momentum, and thanked Malaysia for mediating the negotiations. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)