Civil society groups hail conclusion of GPH-MILF talks

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Monday, January 27, 2014


ILIGAN CITY — Accolades continue to rain on the peace panels of government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for completing negotiations on the remaining substantive issue for a political settlement of the four-decade Moro rebellion in Mindanao.

On Saturday, the parties signed the Annex on Normalization to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) that lays out the process of decommissioning the MILF’s armed forces, and an Addendum on Bangsamoro Waters that delineates a maritime territory for the future autonomous entity.

The breakthrough leaves the parties with only the task of compiling the six consensus documents into the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

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“To the panel members and supporters of both the government and the MILF, we salute you all on this great day! Your contributions are now part of our collective history of building peace and reconciliation,” said a statement from the nongovernment group Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID).

As the peace process moves to another stage, the group said that the “collective paths” for Mindanao’s peoples have become “clearer and (the) burdens lighter...”

IID used to be part of the global civil society support group that accompanied the peace process between the Republic of Indonesia and rebels fighting for the freedom of Timor Leste.

Mindanao’s history written in our time

The successful conclusion of peace negotiations between government and the MILF, according to IID, is just like “witnessing Mindanao’s history written in our time.”

“We especially express our admiration of the commitment of both panels at definitively overcoming all major hurdles, and their joint commitment at persevering and creatively seeking solutions to 40 years of conflict and 16 years of tumultuous and at times contentious negotiations,” the IID stressed.

“Our collective wait in the wings with the rest of the world had often been fretful, challenging and at times even painful, particularly for many of us who have long invested in Mindanao’s peace. We wrung our hands at many an impasse and held our collective breaths when the path chosen seemed askew to our eyes,” the group further said.

“Let us celebrate the panels, both as a group and as individuals, from former to current members, for their staying the course and championing peace. Let us cherish this moment when former opponents at the peace table came together with finality on common ideals, principles and terms, hammering out a clarion call for others to follow,” IID said.

Year of peace

“2014 is going to be a year of peace for Mindanao. With the signing of the last and final annex of the FAB on Normalization, the comprehensive peace agreement is practically achieved. Kudos to the peace panels,” said Mary Ann Arnado, secretary general of the Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC).

“I’m calling on all Mindanaoans to rally behind this political settlement formula. I am appealing to all political leaders to support this agreement in letter and spirit,” she said.

Patricia Sarenas, chair of the Mindanao Coalition of Development NGOs (MINCODE), a coalition of 12 networks of non-government organizations and people’s organizations in Mindanao, said her group would continue to support the next steps towards the creation of the Bangsamoro government.

“Great blessings today! With the signing of the Normalization annex, the last annex to the FAB, we move closer to the creation of the Bangsamoro,” Sarenas said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 27, 2014.

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