Peace talks with MILF agree on framework for final peace agreement

April 25, 2012 9:47 pm 

MANILA, April 25 — The Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have made a major step forward with the signing of the decision points on principles that will serve as a framework for the eventual signing of a peace agreement.

As the 27th Round of Exploratory Talks concluded on Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, both panels signed the document which provide a new level of momentum in the negotiations. The parties will meet again in May 2012.

Both parties acknowledged the roles played by the Facilitator and the International Contact Group (ICG) in reaching this breakthrough.

The document was signed on Tuesday by GPH Panel chairman Marvic M. V.F. Leonen, MILF Panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal and witnessed by Malaysian Facilitator Tengku Dato' AB Ghafar Tengku Mohamed.

"The Parties expressed their appreciation to His Excellency President Benigno Simeon Aquino III for his commitment to a just and lasting peace in Mindanao, to His Excellency Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak for his continued support in the facilitation of the GPH-MILF Peace Talks and the MILF Central Committee headed by chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim for its continued commitment to the resolution of the Bangsamoro Question," the parties said in a joint statement.

The parties also extended their gratitude to the members of the ICG, namely, Japan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Conciliation Resources, Muhammadiyah, and The Asia Foundation.

"This marks a significant and concrete step forward by both Parties in their discussions of substantive issues in these negotiations," Leonen said.

"For the GPH, this document is a preliminary listing of common points, which the Parties have mutually identified, coming from their respective initial positions: the MILF, from their February 2011 Revised Comprehensive Compact, and the GPH, from its 3-for-1 August 2011 proposal," he said.

Leonen also stressed that the document is not the final peace agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

"With the signing this document, indeed, comes the mutual recognition of the Parties that there are various outstanding issues that still require further or more detailed discussions between the Panels and more difficult decisions for their Principals, such as issues pertaining to the geographic scope of the autonomous political entity, power sharing and wealth sharing between the entity and the National Government, mechanisms for implementation of the agreement and the contours of a normalization process, which will include details on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration," Leonen said.

He said such outstanding issues, as well as the points contained in the document, will be contextualized in the final agreement.

Leonen said the parties recognize the Bangsamoro identity and the legitimate grievances and the claims of the Bangsamoro people. The parties agreed that the status quo is unacceptable and that the parties will work for the creation of a new autonomous political entity in place of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The parties agreed that the new autonomous political entity shall have a ministerial form of government as well as to the need for a transition period and the institution of transitional mechanism in order to implement the provisions of the agreement.

They likewise agreed that the defense and external security, foreign policy, common market and global trade, coinage and monetary policy, citizenship and naturalization and postal service are reserved for the competence of the national government.

The parties agreed that the wealth creation is important, as well as the need to strengthen the Shari'ah courts and to expand their jurisdiction over cases. They agreed that the government of such political entity "shall also ensure guarantees of human rights and liberties for its inhabitants, such as religious freedom, the right of women to meaningful political participation, and freedom from ethnic, religious or sectarian harassment, in addition to rights already enjoyed.

"We look forward to the coming weeks of more thorough (perhaps, more difficult) conversations with the MILF and various affected sectors, with the understanding that only through peaceful and candid dialogues, open and public consultations and continuous reflections can a sincere, effective and acceptable solution be arrived at," he said. (PNA) DCT/PCOO/ssc

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