MILF proposal seeks to break snag in peace process

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/04 October)—The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has submitted to Malaysia a proposal to move the peace talks forward, rebel officials said.

Negotiations hit a snag after the MILF declared there was nothing to talk about because the proposal submitted by the government peace panel in August reportedly had nothing in common with the rebel group’s own peace draft.

Von Al Haq, MILF spokesperson, told MindaNews by phone Tuesday their new proposal to break the standstill was submitted last month to Malaysian facilitator Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed.

Malaysia is the third-party mediator in the GPH-MILF peace process.

“He [Malaysian facilitator] was at Camp Darapanan discreetly in a bid to find a common ground…to work out the date for the next round of talks,” Al Haq said in Filipino, referring to the sprawling MILF camp in Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao.

The Malaysian facilitator also shuttled with the government’s peace panel for the resumption of amity talks, the rebel spokesperson added.

“The ball is now in the hands of the government for the resumption of formal peace negotiations in Kuala Lumpur,” Al Haq said.

He said the MILF’s “new proposal was not far from the previous proposal the Front’s peace panel had submitted to the government.”

Al Haq did not elaborate.

Mohagher Iqbal, MILF peace panel chairman, confirmed in a separate phone interview a few days ago the Front’s proposal to move the peace process forward.

Iqbal, however, declined to also detail their proposal.

The government peace panel submitted its proposal to the MILF peace panel during the 22nd GPH-MILF Formal Exploratory Talks last August 22 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

It was rejected by the MILF peace panel.

Marvic Leonen, government chief peace negotiator, earlier described the state’s proposal as “three for one” solution: massive economic development; political settlement with the MILF through a new Organic Act; and cultural-historical acknowledgment and correction of errors in “historical narratives and … appreciation of different cultures borne out of the struggles of all Filipinos including those of Bangsamoro identity”.

Iqbal has described the government’s proposal as “way below our expectation.”

The MILF proposal, including the Bangsamoro substate, was “a product of 10 years of negotiations and so many compromises already,” he noted.

Both sides last met formally 18 days after President Benigno S. Aquino III and MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim met in Japan to discuss the fast-tracking of the peace process.

Held in Narita on August 4, the Aquino-Murad historic engagement lasted for two hours, with the President initiating the meeting that was initially proposed to be held in the Philippines, an earlier MILF statement said.

Japan is a member of the International Contact Group, the body set up in 2009 and composed of “groups of states and non-state organizations to accompany and mobilize international support for the peace process” and mandated to “exert the necessary leverage and assistance towards sustaining the trust and confidence of both sides at the negotiating table.” (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)

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