GPH-MILF talks resume in Malaysia; rebels present updated demands PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 February 2011 14:56

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has formally submitted to the government its new comprehensive draft following its two-day peace negotiations in Kula Lumpur that ended on Thursday.

In a joint statement, both parties have also agreed to resume the negotiation on March 29 and 30.
“During the meeting, the MILF Panel officially submitted a revised draft of the Comprehensive Compact. The GPH (Government of the Philippines) received the draft of the MILF and requested time to review and submit its own proposals,” the statement reads. It was signed by Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, GPH panel chair,   Mohagher Iqbal, MILF panel chair, and witnessed by Datuk Othman Bin Abd Razak, the Malaysian facilitator.

The statement, however, did not give details on the new draft, but MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said the organization stands pat in their clamor to create a new Moro state in southern Philippines.

The meeting was the first under the Aquino administration and both panels brought their entire five members complement. The two peace panels, composed of its chief negotiator, earlier met last month to set the parameters of the talks.

As announced earlier, the government and the Moro rebels have renewed the tour of duty for another 12 months of the foreign peacekeeping troops, called the International Monitoring Team (IMT). It said both parties have also reviewed and amended the Terms of Reference of the Malaysian-led IMT.

In addition, the parties rewrote some of the implementing guidelines of the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), and reaffirmed their commitment to continue joint efforts in coordinating the isolation and interdiction of criminal elements by renewing the mandate of the AHJAG for a period 12 months, effective March 1.

During the meeting, the MILF peace panel reported the status of their organization following the resignation of Commander Ustadz Ameril Umbra Kato, who has created a new rebel group in Central Mindanao.

Commander Kato is one of the three Moro rebel commanders who staged bloody attacks against civilians’ communities in some parts of Mindanao when the talks broke down in August, 2008.
President Benigno C. Aquino on Thursday ordered the government security to run after the commander, who has a P1-million bounty.

The resignation of Commander Kato was seen as a major fracture within the MILF organization, but Ebrahim said the MILF has still full control over their men.

Moreover, the Aquino government also announced “positive actions on the cases of 25 individuals claimed by the MILF to be political detainees.”

The MLF earlier demanded the Aquino government to “stop arresting” members of the MILF, and members of their central committee who were arrested in the past to be released before they will it down at the negotiation table.

“If the government can release the ‘Morong 43,’ who were tagged by the military as members of the New People’s Army, it can also release those MILF political detainees especially Engr. Edward Guerra and Commander Aguilar Saligan immediately,” Iqbal has said.

“The release is a good confidence-building measure for the Aquino administration, which is steadily losing moral ascendancy in the present talks due to calibrated alibis not to start talks in July,” he added.

The MILF has been fighting for self-rule in Mindanao for the last four decades. The peace talks commenced in 1997, but major issues such as the political settlement have not yet been discussed in previous administration. — Darwin Wally T. Wee-Peace Advocates Zamboanga