Islamic scholars assured of gov’t sincerity in MILF peace talks PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 27 May 2012 14:26

The government has assured the Ulama or Islamic scholars of its  sincerity in the ongoing peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said yesterday that Dr. Hamid A. Barra, a member of the government peace panel, made the assurance during a consultation with the Philippine Usrah Foundation Inc. (Usrah) in Marawi City last Tuesday.

“Sincerity is out of the question because the GPH (Government of the Philippines) has always been sincere in the negotiations,” Barra said.

The consultation was made ahead of the next round of the GPH-MILF formal exploratory talks in Malaysia next week.

Barra is an aleem, a scholar on Islamic history, laws, and ways of life. Ulama is the plural form of aleem.

The forum was attended by Ulama from the municipalities of Ramain, Maranto, Masiw and Bacolod in Lanao del Sur.

Islamic educators from Mindanao State University-Marawi (MSU), Jamiatu Marawi Al-Islamia Foundation, and Qualisi International School were also in attendance.

Dean Talib Benito, head of the King Faisal Center for Islamic, Arabic and Asian Studies at the Mindanao State University, cited the importance of the consultations by the government.

“This consultation is important because it determines the valid opinions of the Ulama in Marawi with regard to the current GPH-MILF negotiations. We all hope for the speedy signing of a peace  agreement between the two parties before the 2013 elections,” he said.

OPAPP said Barra provided pertinent information to the forum participants, particularly on the recent developments in the GPH-MILF talks wherein both parties signed the Decision Points on Principles in Kuala Lumpur last April 24.

The document contains 10 mutually identified standpoints that will guide the succeeding round  of negotiations toward a final peace pact.
Aleem Abdul Salam Disomimba urged other Usrah members to get involved in the peace process.

“As Islamic educators, each of us should share our views with respect to the negotiations between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. We know that our contribution is not limited,” he said. “What then can we suggest to the GPH and MILF panels?”

In response to this call, Judge Aboali Cali of the Regional Trial Court Shari’ah suggested the creation of a national and local contact group which will raise valid concerns and suggestions of the Bangsamoro groups in the area to the GPH and MILF panels.

He said he hopes for the panels to accommodate his proposal but stressed that he “recognizes the effort and help being provided (to the negotiations) by the International Contact Group (ICG) and the International Monitoring Team (IMT).”

The ICG, which is composed of members from international government and non-government groups, is mandated to exert the necessary leverage and assistance towards sustaining the trust and confidence of both sides at the negotiating table.

On the other hand, the IMT is a group that monitors the ceasefire, civilian protection component, rehabilitation and development, and socioeconomic agreements between the government and the MILF. It is comprised of representatives from Malaysia, Brunei, Libya, Japan, Norway and the European Union.

Meanwhile, Aleem Ustadj Omar raised the issue on the alleged delaying tactics happening in the talks. He said that “[he] knows from the past and up until now, that there are delaying tactics happening in the negotiations.”

However, Barra countered this allegation and reiterated his assurance that the GPH panel is sincere in its efforts to craft an agreement that will solve the Bangsamoro problem that has been there for over four decades.

He promised to relay their concerns to the GPH panel before the next round of talks wherein substantive issues will be tackled.

The GPH and MILF are expected to meet anew later this month to discuss thoroughly the substantive issues in the negotiations.