Gov't optimistic as talks with MILF advance

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 28 2012 12:16 PM | Updated as of May 28 2012 08:33 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles is optimistic that the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would “build on its gains” as the peace panels from both sides hold another round of exploratory talks today.

The Government of the Philippines (GPH) and MILF peace panels are scheduled to meet today in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the 28th formal exploratory talks.

"We are hoping that the next round of talks will be able to build on the gains established with the signing of the Decision Points on Principles during the April meeting," Deles said in a statement.

"The GPH panel goes to KL (Kuala Lumpur) having undergone intensive preparations for the substantive agenda which are on the table. These are difficult issues which may test the will and patience of the two parties," she added.

At the conclusion of the 27th exploratory talks last April 24, both parties agreed to the creation of a new autonomous political entity in place of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

GPH panel chairman Marvic Leonen had said the territorial scope of the new entity would still have to be discussed. He added that this will also require a law in Congress.

The creation of the new entity was among the 10 mutually identified standpoints agreed both by the GPH and MILF.

Among the points of agreements were the "power-sharing" and "wealth-sharing" between the National Government and the new political entity.

The agreement also explicitly stated that both parties have agreed that certain powers "are reserved for the National Government," including defense and security, foreign policy, common market and global, coinage and monetary policy, citizenship and naturalization, and postal service.

Deles said the government panel had conducted consultation with various stakeholders “to know their sentiments and gather their inputs on the GPH-MILF peace process.”

"We pray for the two panels to be able to bridge the gaps between the parties' positions and expand common grounds towards the peace our people have long desired and which our country badly needs to achieve lasting progress," Deles said.

The peace panel is chaired by Dean Marvic Leonen with members Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Former Agriculture Secretary Senen Bacani , Dr. Hamid Barra , Yasmin Busran Lao, and alternate member Mayor Ramon Piang, Sr.