Gov’t optimistic to meet timeline for peace agreement with MILF — Leonen

February 16, 2012 9:37 am 

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb. 16 – “The peace process with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) has moved forward,” government chief negotiator Marvic Leonen said at the conclusion of the peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF today in the Malaysian capital.

“Now, we have moved at least a few feet,“ Leonen said, as he maintained optimism that government will meet its timeline to ink an agreement with the Moro group this year. “The day will come, I hope very, very soon that we will be able to sign a peace agreement.”

Difficult but satisfied, both parties reported that the 25th Formal Exploratory Talks have been “difficult.”

MILF peace panel chair Mohager Iqbal said that the talks “have been very emotional because it affects the collective future of our people.”

To this, Leonen emphasized that the challenges are not equal to impossibility. “We always believe that it is always possible to find solutions to a problem, review it, adjust and later on achieve the kind of peace that is permanent, that is founded on justice for all that are concerned on the ground.”

In a joint statement released immediately after the talks, both parties expressed “satisfaction on the progress of their discussions, and recognizing the many challenges that have yet to be resolved in order to find a political solution to the Bangsamoro Question and the armed conflict in Mindanao.”

Malaysian third party facilitator Tengku Dato Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed lauded the government and the MILF for the progress in the negotiations. “Both sides agree that there are constraints and both agree to resolve these constraints,” he said.

The next round of formal talks is scheduled in March 2012.

Agreements

Both parties have renewed for another year the mandate of the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), a mechanism of both the government and the MILF that seeks to interdict and isolate lawless elements that take refuge in or near MILF communities.

Likewise, both sides carefully considered reports on the ground of the International Monitoring Team (IMT), which monitors the implementation of the agreement on the cessation of hostilities between the two parties. The IMT is composed of delegations from Malaysia, Brunei, Japan, Libya, EU and Norway.

In the next round of talks, the parties are also expected to invite two consultants to their respective delegations. (PNA) DCT/OPPAP-PR/mmg

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