GPH-MILF talks extended by a day in KL; Annex signing not likely

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/12 July) – As has been their rule during peace negotiations in the time of the Ramadhan, sessions are supposed to be held in the morning only, in deference to the Muslims in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government (GPH) peace panel but Thursday’s session – supposedly the last day of the scheduled July 8 to 11 talks – extended until late afternoon with not a single contentious issue on wealth-sharing resolved.

Both panels have apparently stuck to their respective positions on the already initialed Annex on Wealth Sharing.

Not even the arrival of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles and Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on Thursday, help.

MindaNews sources in Kuala Lumpur told MindaNews that although Deles and Lacierda did not enter the negotiating room, their presence initially raised hopes that they brought some good news from Malacanang, the day ended with no progress.

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

The government peace panel asked for an extension until Friday, the Muslims’ holiest day but the parties ended Thursday’s session with the MILF not quite sure if it was returning for the 9 a.m. session Friday.

GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer told MindaNews early Friday morning that  “yes we extended” but denied speculations that the MILF walked out. “No walkout,” she said.

Deles told MindaNews in a text message also early Friday that talks are “still ongoing today.” She described the talks as “tough but no one walked out.”

Another source in KL privy to the talks said the MILF panel left the venue room “hungry and frustrated.”

MILF sources told MindaNews early Friday morning that they would show up at the State Room of the Palace of the Golden Horses in Kuala Lumpur, venue of the talks, at 9 a.m.

The decision to return to the table was apparently made late Thursday night after a member of the government peace panel met with the MILF to convince the latter to attend today’s session.

What the Joint Statement will look like at the end of today’s session, is anybody’s guess. But it will not announce that any of the three remaining annexes has been signed.

The Joint Statement, however, is expected to contain at least one accomplishment: that the panels finally introduced the members of the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) led by former EU Ambassador to the Philippines Alistair MacDonald.

The TPMT members were supposed to have been named within a month from their agreement in January.  (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

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