GPH, MILF peace panels meet in Kuala Lumpur today

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013


ILIGAN CITY -- Negotiators of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will meet today, December 4, in Kuala Lumpur to settle the details on power sharing and normalization that are preventing them from clinching a comprehensive peace accord more than a year after inking a landmark preliminary pact.

On the same day, public consultations on the Bangsamoro Basic Law kick off in Lanao del Norte, spearheaded by civil society organizations that entered into a partnership with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

The first consultations will take place in two clusters covering at least four of the province’s 22 towns December 4 with former Iligan City mayor Franklin Quijano serving as facilitator.

All the towns plus Iligan City will hopefully be covered by December 7, said Gimaidee Ann Cadotdot of the Pailig Academy for Grassroots Democracy (PAGD), secretariat of the Lanao consultations.

Hammering consensus

Wednesday’s meeting of the peace panels is widely expected to be focused on hammering consensus on power sharing, which will essentially spell out the governance powers devolved by the central government to the Bangsamoro, and the scheme for the exercise of powers the two entities share.

The exploratory meeting on October, which was scheduled for 10 days but extended by another day, failed to muster agreement on the details.

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro learned that last month, the parties met in Kuala Lumpur for several days of executive session, meaning, a process that involves only a small contingent from each side.

Sources familiar with the dynamics of the peace negotiations estimate that at the current pace of the panels, a comprehensive peace agreement could be forged around February next year.

The same sources also said it is likely that the issue of power sharing could be settled in the current meeting with about eight points up for negotiations, the most crucial of which are on internal waters and elections.

Completing a comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) was originally set for December 2012 based on the consensus enshrined in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) that was inked October 15 last year.

The CPA will consist of the FAB plus the annexes on transitional modalities, wealth sharing, power sharing and normalization. The last two annexes are yet to be finished.

Consultative exercise

The civil society-led consultations in Lanao del Norte is part of a Mindanao-wide effort to solicit inputs from grassroots communities regarding the charter of the future Bangsamoro self-governance entity that will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm). This is covered by a memorandum of agreement between the BTC and at least 40 non-government groups and networks.

Primarily, these consultations will be done in every legislative district of the provinces of the Armm and provinces which have localities that can be potentially part of the Bangsamoro. Thematic consultations are also planned like among indigenous peoples, women and youth.

For Lanao del Norte, its 22 towns are grouped into 10 clusters while the 44 barangays of Iligan City is also another cluster. Some 100 participants will be convened per cluster.

The results of these consultations will be forwarded to the BTC as well as the government and MILF peace panels, said Cadotdot.

“We have especially targeted grassroots leaders because we believe that the effort to improve the Moro autonomy setup must redound to the greater benefit of the ordinary Bangsamoro,” Cadotdot stressed.

More than 30 local civil society organizations are participating in the consultation effort supported by the GIZ Civil Peace Service program, Cadotdot added.

“We aim that the conduct of this democratic exercise provides a hopeful contrast amid the historical backdrop of Lanao del Norte being a key trigger for war in the 1970s, 2000 and 2008,” explained Quijano.

The Moro autonomy experiment began in 1977, founded on the 1976 Tripoli Agreement of Peace inked between government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

But consultations related to its design were first done in 1987 through the Mindanao Regional Consultative Commission (MRCC) that drafted the original Organic Act of the Armm.

But much of these consultations, according to Mindanao historian and MRCC member Rudy Rodil, never went down to the grassroots. The effort to involve grassroots leaders in designing Moro autonomy is therefore the first in its 36-year history.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 04, 2013.

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