GPH, MILF resume peace talks in KL as Ramadhan begins

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 July) — The government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are resuming peace talks in Kuala Lumpur from July 8 to 11, three months after their last meeting.

The talks will open on Monday, July 8, a day before the expected start of Ramadhan, the Islamic month of fasting.

In Cotabato City, the United Youth of the Philippines-Women (UnYPhil-Women) will spearhead a rally of Bangsamoro women from grassroots communities in Maguindanao and North Cotabato, at the plaza at 9 a.m. on Monday, around the same time the panels open their talks in Kuala Lumpur, to call on the government (GPH) and MILF to complete the remaining three annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and sign the comprehensive peace pact.

The FAB paves the way for the creation of a new autonomous political entity called the “Bangsamoro” that would replace the nearly 23-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) by the end of the Aquino administration on June 30, 2016.

Under the FAB, which was signed on October 15, 2012, the panels were supposed to have completed the four annexes on wealth-sharing, power-sharing, normalization and transitional arrangements and modalities by December 31, 2012. But only one Annex has been signed: the Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, on February 27.

On the same day, the Annex on Wealth-Sharing was initialed by peace panel members Senen Bacani of the GPH and Abhoud Syed Lingga of the MILF.

After the GPH-MILF Technical Working Group (TWG) on Wealth-Sharing submitted its report to the panels, they agreed to create a special team headed by Bacani and Lingga to handle wealth-sharing.  The draft annex was initialed on February 27, in the presence of peace panel chairs Miriam Coronel-Ferrer of the GPH and Mohagher Iqbal of the MILF and their members, the Malaysian facilitator and the International Contact Group.

Ferrer in April said the government needed more time to review the wealth-sharing annex.

In a press release on July 5, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP),  said Ferrer “expressed the government’s resolve to complete the annex on wealth sharing… in the next round of formal exploratory talks in Kuala Lumpur this month.”

According to the OPAPP press release, Ferrer said the GPH proposal on wealth-sharing
provides for a fiscal arrangement that is better than what exists in the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.”

“There will be more taxing powers and a more defined sharing of government resources on the whole, in keeping with the goal of having a strong and viable autonomous Bangsamoro governance,” the OPAPP quoted her as saying.

Under the 10 Decision Points of April 2012 and the FAB in October 2012, both parties had agreed that “the status quo is unacceptable.”

The MILF, in its editorial in luwaran.com on June 8 explained “status quo” to mean “largely, it is about the imbalance or one-sided relationship between the Philippine state and the Bangsamoro people, the former as neo-colonizer and the latter as the colonized” and that it is also “about extirpating or cleansing of the ‘dirt’ within the Moro society and oneself, as in any society or individual.”

“Applied to the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which in every bit is an administrative region, it is not only about replacing it with a new Bangsamoro political entity, but even those powers granted to it by law should not and must not be offered at all in the current negotiation in order to give honesty to this agreed principle. The most sensible stance would be that those powers already granted to the ARMM by R.A. 9054 and other legislations should be delivered to the new entity. The only subject of negotiations are additional powers,” the editorial said.

MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal had repeatedly said they would stick to the initialed document.

On July 4 he told MindaNews that “if government will be consistent with the signed documents, we most likely have something to expect” in the next round of talks this week.

Ferrer in the July 5 press release of OPAPP said members of the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) have been invited to join them in Kuala Lumpur for introductions and to convene for the first time.

The TPMT — which will be composed of “an eminent international person” as chair and spokesperson,  two local NGO representatives nominated by the GPH and MILF and two international NGO representatives nominated by the GPH and the MILF —  is tasked to  “review, assess, evaluate and monitor the implementation of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and its Annexes.”

The TPMT Terms of Reference was agreed upon by both parties as early as January. In their January 25 Joint Statement, the panels were supposed to have identified the members of the TPMT “within one month” but the names were not announced in their February and April talks.

Ferrer told MindaNews that the names of the TPMT members will be announced on July 8 in Kuala Lumpur.

“The convening of the TPMT is another concrete indication that all is well in the peace process,” Ferrer was quoted as saying.

Without the signed Annexes, however, the TMPT has nothing to review, assess, evaluate and monitor. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews) 

Comments

comments