GPH-MILF formal talks to resume in July

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MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/22 June) — The next round of formal exploratory talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will resume in July, a news item posted Friday on the website of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said.

“The panel chairs have already agreed on a date early next month to further discuss the annexes on wealth sharing, power sharing and normalization,” GPH panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer was quoted as having said in Oslo, Norway.

Ferrer had an informal meeting with MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal in the Norwegian capital where both of them attended the Oslo Forum 2013 organized by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue last June 18 and 19.

“Coronel-Ferrer also handed over to her counterpart the government’s full proposals on the wealth sharing annex for the MILF to study and consider,” the OPAPP said.

“Both panels are completing the remaining annexes on wealth sharing, power sharing, and normalization that, together with the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, will comprise the GPH-MILF comprehensive agreement. The annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities (TAM) was already signed by the parties in February,” it added.

Government wanted the MILF to give up some of its demands in wealth-sharing, but the latter objected to the changes in the initialed document.

“The government had their first change of position vis-à-vis the initialed document especially on natural resources and block grant to Bangsamoro government during the 38th GPH-MILF Exploratory Talks last April 9-11. The MILF negotiating team vehemently objected to the changes,” the MILF website luwaran.com reported last June 12.

In the same report, Luwaran quoted Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace panel as having said: “Except for those that are in harmony with the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), we don’t accept the changes introduced by government on wealth-sharing.”

In his opening statement during the 37th GPH-MILF exploratory talks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last July 9, Iqbal said: “…I am very hopeful that the Annex on Wealth-sharing will be signed by the parties, because the text had been settled during the 36th GPH-MILF Exploratory Talks last February 25-27. I don’t see any reason why we cannot get pass through this issue with much hassle.”

In the same report, the OPAPP said GPH panel member Senen Bacani expressed optimism that a comprehensive agreement will be signed in a month or two.

Bacani said there are only a few remaining issues on the annexes but added that “these are the most difficult issues hence the need for due diligence so that when the comprehensive agreement will finally be signed, it will pass legal and constitutional scrutiny.”

He said they did not want the comprehensive agreement to follow the fate of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain which was declared unconstitutional in 2008.

“The panel member added that the GPH continues its consultations with the House of Representatives and the Senate including the newly-elected legislators to ensure that they are updated on the peace negotiations and garner support among the legislators,” the OPAPP report added.

The annex on wealth-sharing, along with the annexes on transitional arrangements and modalities (TAM), power-sharing and normalization, and the FAB will make up the Comprehensive Agreement between the government and the MILF.

The annex on transitional arrangements and modalities was signed last February. (MindaNews)

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