Let’s redouble efforts to conclude these negotiations — GPH Chair PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 15 February 2012 13:41

KUALA LUMPUR — Philippine government peace panel chair Marvic Leonen on Monday urged the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to “focus once more on the substantive issues and explore common grounds” as he emphasized that government is “optimistic that we can find mutually viable solutions.”

“Let us redouble our efforts to conclude these negotiations in the soonest possible time. The sooner, the better,” Leonen said during the opening ceremony of the 25th formal exploratory talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF in this Malaysian city.

In response, MILF panel chair Mohagher Iqbal said that “practically all issues are on the table and are clear to all parties.”

“If we cannot settle all these issues soon, there will be more headache.” he said.

Malaysian facilitator Tengku Dato Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed described the current round of talks as “interesting because we will try to resolve issues that are quite serious to deal with.”

“At the end of the day, we should be able to see something as both parties have timelines to achieve,” he said.

The government and the MILF are expected to settle substantive issues in this round of talks to be able to come up with a peace agreement soon.

In his opening statement, Leonen emphasized the need to facilitate not only an agreement that will make peace possible but most importantly, “an agreement that should bring in the possibility of making peace permanent.”

The GPH chair said that both parties must “acknowledge what is real, what is practicable under the circumstances; hence to build foundations within present grounds inspired with our most passionate ideals.”

Leonen enumerated the current administration’s policies to lay the groundwork for peace.

“We are now in an administration with a President willing to risk his own political future to cleanse government of past sins of corruption and misadministration,” Leonen said, citing the efforts of the current governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) who within one hundred days of appointment, have shown resolve to “cleanse entrenched interests to bring about a government that delivers justice.”

At the same time, the GPH chair also called on the MILF to acknowledge other voices and exercise inclusivity in working with other leaders that represent the Bangsamoro.

“For example, we hope that the MILF can go beyond its initial meetings with leaders of various groups within the MNLF as it had reported during the last round of talks. We hope that it can actually see the current proposals of the MNLF and find common grounds with them,” Leonen said.

He also called on the MILF to work with government to keep the peace on the ground, raising concerns that certain elements of the MILF have moved and conducted actions without proper coordination with the ceasefire mechanisms, the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) or the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH).

“We do have the AHJAG mechanisms that will enable us to work together to interdict these criminals that find sanctuary within various communities. It is also by working together that we avoid needless panic and instability as we negotiate a final peace agreement,” Leonen said.