Gov't, MILF to resume formal talks in July

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 21 2013 10:55 AM | Updated as of Jun 21 2013 09:35 PM

MANILA – The Philippine government (GPH) peace panel and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have agreed to resume formal talks in July, in an attempt to break an impasse that threatens to cause the collapse of the peace pact.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), in a news report posted on its website on Friday morning, said government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal agreed to resume the talks during an informal meeting in Oslo, Norway this week.

"The panel chairs have already agreed on a date early next month to further discuss the annexes on wealth sharing, power sharing and normalization," said Ferrer, referring to the three annexes in the peace pact which have been causing the deadlock between the two sides.

Coronel-Ferrer, together with Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles, attended the Oslo Forum 2013 organized by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue last June 18 and 19.

Iqbal, Malaysian Third-Party Facilitator Tengku Datu Abdul Ghafar Tengku bin Mohamed, MILF peace panel member Maulana Alonto and MILF consultant Raissa Jajurie were also present in the event.

Coronel-Ferrer said she handed over to Iqbal the government's full proposals on the wealth sharing annex for the MILF to study and consider.

The annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities (TAM) was already signed by the parties in February.

Diligence needed

Quoting a radio interview, OPAPP said GPH panel member Senen Bacani expressed optimism that a peace pact will be signed in just a month or two.

Bacani was quoted as saying that there are few remaining issues on the annexes. He said diligence is needed in tackling the remaining annexes "so that when the comprehensive agreement will finally be signed, it will pass legal and constitutional scrutiny."

"We need a little patience and understanding for these delays as we have no control over the schedules of other people, but I am very hopeful that we will finish this comprehensive agreement in a month or two," he said.

"What is important is that we continue to be committed to settle these issues, and once and for all complete the comprehensive agreement so that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission can also start drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law," he added.

Bacani said he does not want for the new peace pact to suffer the fate of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain which was declared unconstitutional in 2008.

The peace panel member said the government continues to update members of the Congress regarding the process.

The MILF earlier said ground commanders are starting to air their concern over the stalled talks. It also said some of the amendments being proposed by the government may not be accepted by MILF central committee.