GPH-MILF talks extended again ‘til Saturday

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/12 July) –  Anothery day, another extension.

The Philippine government (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels extended for yet another day their negotiations in Kuala Lumpur on the remaining three annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), apparently to ensure both sides will not return home empty-handed.

In a text message at 6:06 p.m. GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer told MindaNews: “We are extending tomorrow. Still trying to finish.”

Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, who arrived here Thursday with Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda,  told MindaNews in a text message that negotiations “went up to 5:30 p.m. today.”

“Had to adjourn for prayers and preparation for iftar (breaking of the fast),” she said.

Ramadhan, the time when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, began on July 10. In the past Ramadhans, when the panels met in Kuala Lumpur, negotiations would last only half a day in deference to the Muslims in the MILF and GPH peace panels, and the Malaysian facilitator and secretariat.

Breakthrough?

Asked if there was any breakthrough in the day-long talks, the first extension after their July 8 to 11 schedule, Deles replied, “(we) will resume tomorrow – hoping, praying bukas na.”

“Not yet. No breakthrough yet. We will return (to the negotiating table) tomorrow. Very harsh nego,” MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal told MindaNews in a text message.

Fr. Eliseo Mercado, Jr. of the Cotabato City-based Institute of Autonomy and Governance, posted in his Facebook account Friday noon 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.

On Thursday, a source from the MILF peace panel told MindaNews that  “up to the dying minutes of the fourth day (Thursday), we have not settled the major issues on wealth-sharing.”

Annexes

The Annex on Wealth-sharing was initialed on February 27 but the GPH peace panel asked for time to review the initialed document.

Under the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed on October 15, 2012, the parties agreed to finish by yearend 2012 the four annexes that would complete the comprehensive peace pact:  Wealth-Sharing, Power-Sharing, Normalization and the Transitional Arrangements and Modalities. 

Only one Annex has been signed – the Transitional Arrangements.

The FAB provides for the creation of a new autonomous political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao   (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

 

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