Replacement of ARMM set-up mulled by GPH,MILF panels PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 27 April 2012 13:49

Sectors in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao want “transparency” in the 10-point negotiation principles struck by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to hasten the 14-year peace talks to generate public support to the newly-crafted discussion framework.

The 10-point deal will be used as guide in resolving all remaining substantive, thorny topics in the 14-year talks..

Mindanao folks were elated with this breakthrough achieved by the GPH and MILF panels, reached during the three-day 27th exploratory talks in Malaysia which ended afternoon of Tuesday.

The two panels have agreed to establish a new political institution to replace the ARMM. This was among the issues discussed during the three-day 27th exploratory talks in Malaysia, which ended Tuesday.

A convenor of more than 50 peace advocacy outfits in Mindanao, Fr. Eliseo Mercado, Jr., who is the executive director of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, said the consensus reached by both sides to pursue a 10-point framework, or set of principles in furthering the talks will enhance the peace initiative.

The GPH and MILF panels bilaterally crafted the so-called “GPH-MILF Decision Points as of April 2012” in the culmination of the latest round of talks in Malaysia.

Mercado, whose peace-building projects in the South are supported by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the European Union, said the panels now have a “playing field” which both sides can use as guide in pursuing a negotiated settlement of the Bangsamoro issue.

The document outlined 10 points that will serve as guide for the upcoming negotiations on remaining issues that are yet to be discussed.

The document also stated that among the remaining issues, the recognition of “Bangsamoro identity and the legitimate grievances and claims of the Bangsamoro people” will be the priority.

Also among the first to express elation over the feat was the provincial chairman for Maguindanao of the Liberal Party, Hadji Tucao Mastura, incumbent mayor of  Maguindanao’s booming Sultan Kudarat town.

“This achievement by the two panels ought to be nurtured and supported by the public. The provincial chapter of the Liberal Party in Maguindanao will support and help preserve it in whatever way it can,” Mastura said.

The MILF, in an emailed statement, said the two panels also agreed to set up a new autonomous political body, which is intended to have a ministerial form of government.

The MILF has repeatedly rejected the ARMM, which the government has offered to the group as a response to the rebels’ quest for a Moro-led governing mechanism to oversee Muslim communities in the South.

Sources from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said the GPH and MILF panels also acknowledged the “need for a transition period and the institution of transitional mechanisms in order to implement the provisions of the agreement.”

GPH chief negotiator Marvic Leonen, in a statement emailed by OPAPP, said the document is a listing of “common points” for negotiations, as laid out and agreed by the panels.

“It marks a significant and concrete step forward by both Parties in their discussions of substantive issues in these negotiations,” he said.

Leonen said the document was based on earlier positions of the parties - the MILF’s February 2011 Revised Comprehensive Compact, and the “3-for-1” August 2011 government peace proposal.

The MILF had earlier rejected the government’s 3-for-1 peace blueprint for Mindanao, which was deemed by most foreign and local peace advocates as an acceptable Mindanao peace initiative. The MILF said the government’s formula was a mere reform of the ARMM.

Muhaquer Iqbal, chairman of the MILF’s peace panel, said the new agreement is a big boost to the peace talks.
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Iqbal, in his statement during the opening program of the 27th exploratory talks, urged the government to drop its efforts to convince the MILF to accept the ARMM as answer to the Moro’s bid for self-determination and self-governance.

Despite the differences in the government and MLIF’s positions, Iqbal said the MILF has refrained from saying any “unkind” word against President Aquino.

“Even the 3-for-1 proposal put forward by the government is in the category of an old formula that should not have been put forward if only to fast track the ongoing negotiation, as agreed by President Aquino and Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo, Japan on August 4, 2011,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal added that they will never accept a “recycled” ARMM even with additional perks.

Mercado, who belong to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate congregation, earlier said the government’s 3-for-1 offer to the MILF was a formula to reform the ARMM, not a solution to the so-called Moro problem. — Felix Ostrea