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Govt, MILF firm up agreement on Bangsamoro monitoring team

January 26, 2013 3:01pm
Government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace negotiators on Friday ended their latest formal talks by signing the terms of a monitoring team that will evaluate the implementation of a framework peace agreement that seeks to create a new Bangsamoro political entity.

In a joint statement, the two parties signed the Terms of Reference for the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT), a body that will review, assess, evaluate and monitor the implementation of the Bangsamoro framework agreement.

“The Parties also agreed to extend the respective tours of duty of the International Monitoring Team and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group for another year in recognition of their important roles in the peace process, without prejudice to adjustments that may be needed pursuant to developments in the crafting of the Annexes to the FAB (Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro),” they said in a statement, according to an article posted Saturday on the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace process (OPAPP) website.

Officials of the government and MILF signed last October a framework peace agreement that provides for the replacement of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a Bangsamoro political entity.

According to the OPAPP, the TPMT will have representatives from local and international non-government organizations to be nominated by the government and the MILF.

Its members will be identified within one month.

The TPMT will continue to function until an exit agreement between the two parties is reached.

In all, chief government negotiator Miriam Ferrer said the four technical working groups (TWGs) “arrived at good compromises on many of the remaining issues.”

Also, she said tangible results were reaped six months after the panels formed their first two TWGs in August 2012.

The working drafts produced by the TWGs on the Annexes on wealth-sharing, power-sharing, normalization, and transitional arrangements and modalities were reported to the panels for discussion and referral to their respective principals.

Clearer process, right direction

Moreover, Ferrer said that while the talks had been very challenging, the two parties “have a clearer process now, and a more definitive estimate of our time frames to complete the comprehensive agreement.”

For his part, MILF peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal said the panels are “moving towards the right direction.”

“Hopefully we would be able to conclude our negotiations on the substantive issues. I think, for now, the light at the end of the tunnel is no longer flickering, it’s very clear. And the continued commitment and decisiveness of all the parties, I think, God willing, we will be able to finish the process,” he said.

Also, Iqbal said the MILF is determined to arrive at a comprehensive agreement with the government despite the challenges.

But he also appealed to both government and MILF panels to "start due diligence from the moment we return to our respective places and be able to report to our respective principals.”

“We are not entertaining any failure in these negotiations. Our minds, our hearts are focused that we must be able to conclude this process successfully,” he said.

Meanwhile, Malaysian facilitator Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohammed said both sides were able to achieve “a great step forward.”

“Initially, we are a bit pessimistic because of the slowness of the progress especially on the working groups. But as it turned out, I think the working groups are moving fast, especially in the last two days to the conclusion of the agreement,” he said.

Annexes

On the progress of the discussions on the annexes, Ghafar said three more items need to be completed on wealth-sharing and two more on power-sharing.

The draft "Transitional Arrangements and Modalities" annex has already been completed by the TWG and received by the panels for final review of their principals.

Ghafar thanked the Philippine government for delivering its first political commitment as stated in the Bangsamoro framework agreement, the creation of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (TC) through the passage of Executive Order (EO) 120.

Last December, President Benigno Aquino III issued EO 120 creating the TC that will draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law to replace the Organic Act that created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The Congress and Senate issued their respective resolutions of support to the EO. — LBG, GMA News
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