Gov’t peace panel to consult govs, mayors of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat re MILF proposal

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/12 April) — The government peace panel negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will begin its “first leg of consultations with local government units in Mindanao” on April 13 and 14 in Buluan, Maguindanao and Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, a press statement from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said.

Marvic Leonen, Dean of the College of Law of the University of the Philippines and chair of the GPH (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) peace panel, and panel members Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Senen Bacani and Ramon Piang, will meet with Maguindanao’s chief executives in Buluan town on April 13, and with Sultan Kudarat chief executives in Isulan town on April 14.

“The series of consultations aims to solicit the views and sentiments of stakeholders on the GPH-MILF peace talks, as well as raise their awareness and engage them in the peace process discourse,” the OPAPP said.

Consultations with the local officials of Sarangani, Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, North Cotabato and South Cotabato “will likewise be held in the upcoming weeks,” it said.

The government and MILF peace panels will meet for another round of exploratory talks on April 27 and 28 in Kuala Lumpur.

The government peace panel’s consultations with the governors and mayors of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat will be the first formal consultations in Mindanao after the February formal exploratory talks with the MILF in Kuala Lumpur.

It was on February 10 when MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal handed over to Leonen their revised draft of the comprehensive peace pact which contains their proposed Bangsamoro sub-state.

Leonen described the revised draft to MindaNews on February 11 as “not a document seeking independence.”

“This is the starting position of the MILF,” Leonen said of his initial reading of the MILF draft. “It’s not that radical and it looks like it’s going for a win-win and principled agreement,” he said.

In his Statement on the Formal Exploratory Talks with the MILF after February 10, Leonen said the MILF draft is a “comprehensive document which we still need to study very carefully with our principals, validate in consultations and compare with our evolving negotiating strategies. The government panel always takes a comprehensive view before coming out with its interpretation of proposals and stating its position.”

The OPAPP press statement said government “has conducted a total of 18 consultations with various sectors, such as the academe, indigenous peoples, government officials, civil society groups, media and the military.”

MindaNews asked the OPAPP media department for a list and details of the consultations. The OPAPP sent MindaNews a “chronology of consultations conducted by the Leonen Panel” from September 6, 2010 to March 14, 2011.

Thirteen of these consultations were held between September 6 and November 16.

The government and MILF peace panels met for informal exploratory talks, for the first time under the Aquino administration, in early January 2011. The formal exploratory talks were held in Kuala Lumpur on February 9 and 10.

The 14th consultation in the list was with Bangsamoro Lawyers Network on January 26, 2011. But the OPAPP listing noted “details undisclosed.”

Four consultations were listed after February: March 3 with the GZO (Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute); March 7 Local Government Consultation, March 8 Local Government Consultation and March 14 Sulu Sultanate. All four had the same notation: “details undisclosed”

The MILF has held six consultations with non-Moro sectors on their proposed Bangsamoro sub-state, between March 6 and April 7: with non-Moro civil society held in Cotabato City; with Protestant religious leaders also held in Cotabato City; with civil society in Lanao and Northern Mindanao in Marawi City; in Davao City with Catholic bishops and with the business sector; and with the Indigenous Peoples held in the MILF’s Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

An earlier press release from OPAPP said there would be a consultation in Koronadal, South Cotabato on April 15 but the April 12 press release no longer mentioned South Cotabato.

The government peace panel will meet with representatives of civil society in General Santos City.  (MindaNews)

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