Philippine gov’t, Muslim oppostion to resume peace talks in July

21st Jun 2013

MANILA, (Xinhua): The Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will resume formal peace talks in July to discuss the three remaining annexes of the framework agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), the government chief negotiator said Friday.

“The panel chairs (of both sides) have already agreed on a date early next month to further discuss the annexes on wealth-sharing, power-sharing and normalization,” said government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer who met informally with MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal this week in Norway where they both attended a forum.

Ferrer also handed over to her counterpart the government’s proposal on the wealth-sharing annex for the MILF to consider.

Both panels are completing the remaining annexes on wealth- sharing, power-sharing, and normalization that, together with the FAB, will comprise the comprehensive agreement.

Meanwhile, government panel member Senen Bacani expressed optimism that a comprehensive agreement will be signed in a month or two.

With this statement, the recent target of signing a comprehensive agreement before the July 22 State of the Nation Address of President Benigno S. Aquino III might no longer be feasible.

Bacani said that there are only a few remaining issues on the annexes but added that these are the most difficult issues hence there is need for due diligence “so that when the comprehensive agreement will finally be signed, it will pass legal and constitutional scrutiny.”

He also said that they want to make sure that the comprehensive agreement will not follow the fate of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain which was declared unconstitutional in 2008.

He added that the government continues consultations with the House of Representatives and the Senate to ensure that they are updated on the peace negotiations and garner support among the legislators.

“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,” Bacani said.

The MILF, the largest Muslim rebel group in the country, earlier expressed frustration over the delay on the peace process.

The MILF has been fighting government troops for decades to establish a self-rule Muslim state in southern Philippines.

The Philippine government and the MILF formally signed on Oct. 15, 2012 the framework agreement, a road map for final political settlement to end the armed struggle.

Editor: Hou Qiang


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