Piñol wishes MILF luck in peace talks

By Lore Mae Andong, ABS-CBN News Central Mindanao

Posted at Oct 07 2012 11:37 AM | Updated as of Oct 08 2012 12:57 AM

NORTH COTABATO, Philippines – Former North Cotabato Gov. Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol who was once tagged as a spoiler of the peace process, wished the (Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) luck in the peace negotiations.

The MILF leadership is awaiting for the result of the negotiation between the Philippine government and the MILF peace panels in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

MILF 1st vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar said the peace talks, which started October 2 was supposed to end last Friday but had to be extended until Sunday as there are still major issues such as wealth sharing that have to be settled.

Jaafar said these major issues were already refined and it is expected that a framework of the proposed comprehensive compact agreement will be signed by the panels anytime today.

This framework will serve as a blueprint for the comprehensive compact agreement, Jaafar said.

As of posting, the MILF is still waiting for developments in the Malaysian caputal.

Piñol, who was once considered an enemy of the MILF, said he believes that everybody is aiming for long-lasting peace not only Mindanao but throughout the nation.

Since his loss in the 2010 gubernatorial race against incumbent Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza, Piñol told ABS-CBN that he has changed his perspective when it comes to peace negotiations with the MILF.

He credited President Benigno Aquino III for making a difference, noting that unlike before, the Aquino government has done consultations with the people on the peace talks with the MILF.

“I believe the President. Sincere siya, and his intentions are noble,” Piñol said.

Piñol revealed that when he lost the 2010 gubernatorial race, he told the President of his intention to join the administration. But he eventually backed out, afraid that Aquino might be sending wrong signals to the MILF in negotiations if Piñol will be part of his administration.

He stressed that is now supporting the President’s initiatives on the peace process and is committed to the negotiation.

Piñol is also now making an effort to reach out to the MILF. He recently talked with MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal and even bumped into Jaafar in a mall in Davao City. Piñol said he shook hands with Jaafar and even talked with him for a while.

Meanwhile, Piñol also shared his perspective on the proposed NAPE or new autonomous political entity, which includes expansions in some areas in North Cotabato.

Piñol said he will not bar people if they want to be included in the NAPE through a plebiscite.

“If magko-conduct ng plebiscite, I will respect the voice of the people,” he said