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MILF, govt may sign Bangsamoro power-sharing deal by Friday

October 9, 2013 3:24pm
The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) expect to make another headway in the peace talks this Friday with the possible signing of a power-sharing deal on the proposed Bangsamoro political entity, a report on GMA News TV's “Balitanghali” said Wednesday

Members of both negotiating panels are in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the 41st round of peace talks aimed at ironing out details in the annexes on power sharing and normalization, which needed to be finalized before a final peace deal can be signed.

The annex on power sharing provides a list of powers that will either be passed on to the Bangsamoro government or exercised jointly with the Philippine national government. The annex on normalization, meanwhile, aims to address security concerns in the proposed Bangsamoro political entity seen to replace the existing Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The report said government and MILF negotiators have opted to prioritize the discussion on the annex on power-sharing since the talks resumed on Tuesday.

Resolve and finish

In his opening speech at the resumption of the talks, MILF website, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal urged the two panels to "resolve and finish" discussing issues surrounding the two remaining annexes, particularly on power sharing.

"I would like to urge the parties to resolve and finish the remaining annexes especially power-sharing, because it seriously impedes the working timeline of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in crafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” he said.

Let us not forget that it was on October 15, 2012 that the parties signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), and it set December of that year for the parties to finish the four annexes. The next December is less than two months from now and we are still struggling to finish the job," Iqbal added.

The "Balitanghali" report said the government negotiating panel headed by professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer arrived in Kuala Lumpur together with presidential adviser on Muslim concerns Yasmin Busran-Lao, undersecretary for political affairs Chito Gascon, and Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon.

An international contact group from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and United Kingdom are also attending the negotiations.

MNLF

Iqbal, meanwhile, said the government and the MILF must come up with a peace agreement better than the deal signed by the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996 or all of the negotiators' efforts will be in vain.

"Succinctly put, we are negotiating for what is above the ARMM up to a level short of an independent entity. Specifically, that arrangement must be better than what the MNLF had achieved, lest they will laugh and mock us no end,” he said.

More importantly, that agreement will be acceptable to our people and will lead to solving the Bangsamoro Question. Short of this, our efforts will be in vain," Iqbal added.

The latest round of peace talks in Malaysia began just as Zamboanga City begins to recover from the nearly three-weeks long clash between government troops and the MNLF, from which the MILF broke away from in 1976.

MNLF reportedly started the clashes because it felt sidelined in the negotiations to craft the Bangsamoro peace pact. MNLF chairman Nur Misuari earlier claimed that the government also abrogated the peace agreement they had signed in 1996, which allegedly prompted his group to declare independence.

The government has repeatedly denied Misuari's claims and maintained that they only seek to end the review process. Xianne Arcangel/KBK, GMA News
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