Gov’t to MILF: Let’s move faster towards agreement PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 13 January 2012 17:54

Government panel chair Marvic Leonen said peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) “have inched forward but not fast enough” even as both sides considered the drafting of road maps towards the resolution of the Bangsamoro question as the three-day 24th formal exploratory talks ended in Kuala Lumpur Wednesday.

“The government was earnest in moving towards the crafting of a peace agreement. That would have been the best move forward for both panels,” Leonen said as he expressed concern on the very slight movement in the negotiations.

In a joint statement at the conclusion of the talks, both parties confirmed “constructive discussions on substantive issues” such as “the concept of governance and the listing of reserved powers of the National Government.”

“Both parties clarified their positions, tentatively identified areas of common ground and agreed to consult with their principals on outstanding issues.” Both the government and the MILF “also considered the drafting of road maps towards the resolution of the Bangsamoro question,” it said.

During the closing ceremony, Leonen said that he arrived in Malaysia with a full delegation, including the panel members, secretariat and the heads of the government ceasefire mechanisms “because we want to achieve and resolve as many of the outstanding issues as possible.”

“We have mentioned principled, just, political opportunities and strong foundations for a long-standing solution to the Bangsamoro question during the negotiations as government’s firm commitment to the peace process,” Leonen said, emphasizing that, “we have laid our cards on the table.”

According to Leonen, “While the negotiations are ongoing, the government will go full blast with its other option – continuing the transformation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.”

Both parties agreed to meet again in February for the next round of talks.

“This is the opportunity that we have to explore because both sides are willing to come together,” Malaysian facilitator Tengku Dato Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed said.

There is no doubt that the entire Republic of the Philippines will benefit with a region for Bangsamoro peoples that is not only genuinely autonomous but also one where the principles of good and effective governance is in place,” Leonen said at the opening of the 24th formal exploratory talks last Monday.
“We all stand to benefit from an autonomous government that can be democratically elected in free, clean and honest elections ensured by security forces that are neutral from political interests and a vibrant and assertive civil society.

It goes without saying that elections can be relevant only when there are real choices between sincere and capable political parties who offer principled leaders.

In a democratic set up, at minimum, electoral exercises provide the mandate and ensure that we truly have a fighting chance of allowing the governed to actively participate and hold our leaders to account.”

Leonen said no autonomy would be genuine unless there is a clear working relationship with the national government in many aspects.

“National government is relevant. This can be clearly seen even in the document of the MILF, the proposed Revised Comprehensive Compact. It certainly takes prominence in our own proposals,” he said.

“It is also clear that any autonomous relationship should include the equitable sharing of wealth and the generation of revenues to make the autonomous government credible in producing opportunities for its people in an environmentally sustainable manner as well as allow the national government to provide the kind of assistance that should be expected of it,” Leonen said.

“We know we share with you this vision and that much of what we need to discuss would be how to get there and how this new political rearrangement would look like,” Leonen added.

“The better part of wisdom that we can discern from human history is that our grandest solutions get refined as we set it in practice. The better part of wisdom therefore requires that we be certain that our solutions work, not only through the reasons we exchange across this table, but also through the crucible of practice — of learning and being able to adjust from our own experiences as we implement our vision. We are in political negotiations, and our solutions take place also in a political context,” he said.

Negotiations between the government and the MILF have been off-and-on since 1997 marked by fighting, including an all-out war in 2000. — BC