GPH, MILF to see full peace pact

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013


ILIGAN CITY -- NEGOTIATORS of government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are eyeing a full peace pact in January 2014.

On Sunday evening, the parties inked the Annex on Power Sharing that embodies “the delineation and sharing of power between the central government and the (future) Bangsamoro government within the territorial jurisdiction of the prospective Bangsamoro political entity.”

Both parties acknowledged the peace pact to be the heart of the already 16-year negotiations with the last dozen years involving Malaysia as facilitator.

“With this significant progress, the Parties are confident that they will finish the Annex on Normalization and an addendum on the matter of Bangsamoro Waters in order to complete the comprehensive peace agreement between the government and the MILF in January 2014,” their joint statement read.

In her opening statement on December 5, government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer stressed that “the time is now” to conclude a full peace deal.

She said the Aquino administration “has less than 1,000 days left, (so) let us make the most of these days, before we get caught again in the whirlpool of the next electoral campaign, or our national attention and resources again be consumed by the next super typhoon, earthquake or other devastating events.”

The pact will consist of the preliminary accord inked October 2012, known as the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), plus four annexes that flesh out the details of transition, wealth sharing, power sharing, and normalization. The parties are now down to working on the Annex on Normalization.

Transition refers to the process of replacing the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) with the Bangsamoro political entity while wealth sharing refers to the devolution of additional taxing powers to the new entity and a new formula for sharing revenues with the national government.

Normalization refers to the process of decommissioning the MILF’s armed wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), so that it is put beyond use, consistent with the group’s commitment to pursue its political aspirations through peaceful and democratic means.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles said, in a statement, that the conclusion of the power sharing deal is “a special gift of the Season for the Filipino people.”

It is “an indication of the collective hopes and dreams of our people for just and lasting peace,” she added.

Deles, along with presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, accompanied the government panel in Kuala Lumpur for the 42nd exploratory meeting that kicked off Thursday.

“It has been a very difficult round but we were able to overcome a lot of obstacles, showing the Parties' shared commitment to finish and deliver on our peoples' desire for peace,” Deles said.

In a statement posted on its official website, the MILF described the power sharing deal as “hard earned.”

“With all fairness and objectivity, the Annex on Power-sharing is the most contentious of the three annexes to the FAB... In terms of time and effort, not to state the tense moments, spent by the parties, this Annex is the most difficult of all, the FAB included,” the MILF said.

The MILF added that the parties began negotiations on power sharing July 2012.

The group said that with the “excellent facilitation” of Malaysian diplomat Tengku Dato’ Ab’Ghafar bin Tengku Mohammed, the parties were able “to overcome their divergent positions leading to the final inking of the agreement...”

ARMM governor Mujiv Hataman said the entire regional government welcomes the recent breakthrough in the peace process, appealing for all-out support to the ongoing peace negotiations “so that we can successfully gear towards its final conclusion.”

“We are now closer to a final peace deal,” Hataman said.

He assures that the current set of elected Armm officials “will give way in the event of a peace agreement.”

Under the agreed transition roadmap, the Armm will be abolished by the time the Basic Law, the charter of the Bangsamoro entity, will be ratified.

Civil society organizations lauded the power sharing deal.

In a joint statement, Pailig Development Foundation, Ecoweb, Inc. and the MSU-IIT Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao, said the breakthroough “emboldened our hope that a comprehensive peace agreement is really just around the corner.”

They also lauded “the firm resolve of the peace panels, reflected in their joint statement, to conclude the comprehensive agreement by January next year.”

“Our prayers and goodwill go with you as you embark on that final phase of the already 16-year peace negotiations,” they said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 10, 2013.

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