KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – President Aquino and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Murad Ebrahim will need to make final decisions on several issues regarding power-sharing and wealth-sharing for the Bangsamoro before a final peace agreement is forged between the government and MILF in December, the government’s chief negotiator said Sunday.
Government chief negotiator Marvic Leonen said another round of peace negotiations between the government and MILF ended Saturday after both sides clarified remaining points “that need final decision-making on the part of the principals.”
He said both sides agreed to meet again for the last time in Kuala Lumpur next month to complete the annexes and finish the entire peace negotiation by the end of December.
“We are down to the last issues that will be contained in the 3 annexes to complete the comprehensive agreement from the framework agreement. We are down to the last issues so one more meeting and then we can terminate the negotiation which took almost 15 years and we’ll finally offer the details produced in the roadmap of the framework agreement. That will change the relationship of the parties towards implementation,” he told ABS-CBNnews.com.
Leonen said the latest round of talks was the first after top government and MILF officials signed the Framework Agreement in Malacañang last month.
He said a 40-man team composed of the government peace panel and the technical working groups on power sharing, wealth sharing and normalization engaged the MILF side in the talks. The technical working group on normalization covered issues relating to policing, decommissioning of MILF forces, reduction of firearms and transitional justice.
The government team was composed of representatives from the defense, justice, finance and interior and local government departments; the National Security Council, the Philippine Army, Philippine National Police, the offices of the presidential advisers on the peace process and political affairs. A representative from indigenous peoples’ groups also joined the talks.
On the part of the MILF, the group sent less than 20 representatives including their lead negotiator Mohaqher Iqbal and Mohamad Nasif, head of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces Task Force Ittihad. Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, former Executive Secretary for the ARMM, also joined the MILF side as negotiator for their technical working group on normalization.
Leonen said he cannot reveal the key issues on power-sharing and wealth-sharing until after the next round of talks in December. He noted: “Be assured, it is reasonable, pragmatic, principled. From the point of view of government, it is constitutional and can be legally delivered."
“From the point of view of the MILF, they know they have commitments on their end which includes major decommissioning of forces. Maraming disarmament e, including the private armed groups,” he added.
Leonen said the MILF has already committed to assist government in the reduction and control of firearms in Mindanao. He said the government also needs to reform the police system so that lawless elements are reduced.
“It is a complex endeavor. Very few countries in the world have had to deal with it but the importance here is that the MILF sat down to talk about how it is going to be done. In a sense, that is a breakthrough but it is a breakthrough that was revealed dun sa Framework Agreement. They sent very high officials nila dun sa kanilang armed forces here to participate in the negotiations,” he said.