MILF chief welcomes peace talks breakthrough

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 26 2012 09:46 PM | Updated as of Apr 27 2012 11:08 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Moro rebel chief Al Haj Murad sees the signing of a peace agreement framework with the government as a "breakthrough."

Murad, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), urged his followers to "pray for more success of the talks, but do not overexpect."

The Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have agreed on "10 decision points on principles" that will guide succeeding negotiations on the substantive agenda for peace negotiations.

The decision points include an agreement that both parties "will work for the creation of a new autonomous political entity in place of the ARMM" and that "the new autonomous political entity shall have a ministerial form of government."

The "GPH-MILF Decision Points on Principles as of April 2012" was signed at the conclusion of the 27th formal exploratory talks on April 24 held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was signed by Leonen and MILF panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal. Signing as witness was Malaysian facilitator Tengku Dato AB Ghafar Tengku Mohamed.

"This is a breakthrough in the almost two-year draught in talks under the Aquino administration. A far-sighted shift from the '3-for-1' formula to put back on track the continuity of the negotiation process is a leap forward," Murad said on the rebel group's website luwaran.com.

"The real test of success of the talks hinges on the conclusion of agreements on the substantive issues like power-sharing, wealth sharing, extent of territory of the new Moro entity," he said.

Murad added that part of the MILF's larger agenda that should be focus of the talks is "the actual empowerment of the Moros to exercise self-governance."

Maulana Alonto, a member of the MILF Peace Panel, said on the rebel group's website that peace agreement framework is vital to the success of the negotiation for a new political entity in the form of a Moro substate that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

"This new substate political entity requires transitional or interim mechanisms that would ensure the success of the ministerial form of Bangsamoro government to be established," he said.

GPH-MILF Decision Points on Principles as of April 2012