DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/14 July) – Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) commended the government (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels for finally signing the Annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing and renewed his pledge to “step aside to make way for a new political setup meant to take the Bangsamoro to greater heights.”
Hataman, OIC ARMM Governor from December 22, 2011 until his assumption as elected ARMM Governor on June 30, 2013, said the signing is “another breakthrough that will keep us moving towards achieving lasting peace in Mindanao.”
In a press statement issued Sunday, Hataman reiterated their support to the peace process, adding they are “ready to take the necessary sacrifice to accommodate the outcome of the ongoing peace negotiation.”
Hataman, his vice-governor Haroun Alrashid Lucman and 23 members of the Regional Legislative Assembly (the 24th died last week), were aware when they ran for their elective posts that their three-year term could be cut short because under the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed by the peace panels on October 15, 2012, the ARMM will be deemed abolished when the Bangsamoro Basic Law is ratified and the Bangsamoro Transition Authority takes over.
He said they remain firm in their pledge and would step aside to make way for a new political set-up intended to bring the Bangsamoro to greater heights.
In Lanao del Norte, peace groups working to raise the consciousness of the people on the GPH-MILF Peace Process, lauded the peace panels for their “hard work and sacrifice” towards signing the Annex.
In a statement, the Lanao Peace Partnership (LPP), composed of the GIZ-Civil Peace Service partner organizations Ecosystems Work for Essential Benefits (EcoWEB), MSU-IIT Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao (IPDM), and Pailig Development Foundation, Inc. (PDFI), said that given the panels’ perseverance in reaching an agreement, it is “but fitting to applaud their tenacity, which we are sure is founded on an unflinching commitment to bring lasting peace in Mindanao.”
The statement, signed by Regina Salvador-Antequisa, Executive Director, EcoWEB; Prof. Juvanni Caballero, Acting Director, MSU-IIT IPDM; and Roberto M. Quijano, Managing Director, PDFI, said the wealth-sharing annex “embodies the true spirit of partnership of the peace panels.”
“With this, we look forward with confidence on the completion of the remaining Annexes to the FAB, and eventually, the comprehensive agreement which every peace-loving (person) in Mindanao awaits.”
Mary Ann Arnado, secetary-general of the Mindanao Peoples’ Caucus noted in a statement that in the long years of MPC’s “accompaniment and advocacy” for the GPH-MILF peace talks, “it is only now that we can say with much confidence that a peace agreement is finally at hand.”
“We thank the men and women in the frontline of the negotiations for your patience, hard work and commitment to take the process further especially during its lowest, darkest and hopeless periods. The wealth sharing annex is the key to the signing of a comprehensive compact. To the peace panels congratulations for heeding the clarion call of the CSOs to bring home a breakthrough for the Bangsamoro,” Arnado said.
Gus Miclat, Executive Director of the Davao City-based Initiatives for International Dialogue and secretary-general of the Mindanao Peace Weavers, said the signing of the Annex is “a testament to the resolve and sincerity of the two parties to achieve a just, genuine and lasting peace in Mindanao.”
“Despite the seeming insurmountable hurdles in this last round including attempts by spoilers, naysayers and cynics to derail, nay, scuttle the talks– reason, compromise and respect for each other prevailed. The parties reflected the deepest aspirations of our peoples and may have listened to the urgent call of civil society that time was running out.”
“Kudos and salute to the panels and to our people who stayed the course. Lasting peace should be at hand. But we need to be vigilant, closely guard and comprehensively support the process as more hard work lies ahead. Even then, we count our blessings,” he said.
In Cotabato City, Fr. Eliseo Mercado, Jr., of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG), said President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22 “would NOW be embellished by the consensus point reached on the wealth sharing.”
On Friday, Mercado wrote in his Facebook account that “the goal is to sign or even initial one of the two important annexes for (inclusion in the) SONA (State of the Nation Address).”
“Would the MILF oblige…? Abangan! In a Tango dance… it takes two… !,” he said.
Later in the afternoon, upon hearing that the talks were extended anew, Mercado wrote: “Talks extended for yet another day.. until Saturday… The interest seems to be the SONA.. Ganoon na lang…?
The President will deliver his annual SONA at the opening of the 16th Congress on July 22. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)