Peace nego not just for one group, but for entire Bangsamoro – GPH panel member PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 19 September 2013 11:38

KUALA LUMPUR – Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel member Mehol Sadain on Tuesday stressed that the issues being put on the negotiating table with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) does not only cater to one group, but to all Moros.

“What we have been negotiating for the whole length of the peace process is for the whole Bangsamoro,” said Sadain, who is also the Secretary of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos. “In the end, the Bangsamoro people will decide who will be leading them. Because that is the way democracy works.”

Sadain, together with GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, and peace panel members Yasmin Busran-Lao and Senen Bacani, is in Kuala Lumpur to resume discussions with the MILF on the remaining annexes on power sharing and normalization, which together with the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the signed Annexes on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, and Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing, will comprise the Comprehensive Agreement which the parties aim to sign within the year.

Regarding Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chair Nur Misuari’s claims that the government has disregarded them in the peace process, Sadain said: “We never neglected the aspirations of the Moro National Liberation Front.”

“The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the panel have actually tried to involve them by initiating a means of convergence between the MNLF and the MILF. This is not, however, within our powers, to force them together, because that is to be arranged between the two of them,” the Zamboanga-raised Tausug said.

The government has called for the completion of the Tripartite Implementation Review Process of the 1996 GPH-MNLF Final Peace Agreement. The review process, which started in 2007, is being facilitated by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation-Peace Committee on Southern Philippines.

Panel member Yasmin Busran Lao also reiterated that the government invited the MNLF, specifically Nur Misuari and Muslimin Sema to nominate representatives to the Transition Commission which will draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

“Unfortunately they did not recommend anyone,” said Lao. “The forming of the Transition Commission was intended to converge all of Bangsamoro to come up with a basic law that will address everyone’s needs, and not just one group.”

Longer hours of work needed

Meanwhile, GPH chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer admitted that the current mood in the talks is “somber,” considering that Sadain and other members of both peace panels and secretariat have families in Zamboanga where Misuari-led MNLF forces have been engaging in armed confrontations with the military and police since Monday last week.

“We constantly update ourselves with what is going on in Zamboanga and the rest of Mindanao, and we are aware of the situation,” said Coronel-Ferrer.

Despite this, Coronel-Ferrer said this does not stop them from addressing the remaining issues on the negotiating table.

“As far as discussions are concerned, there is a lot of consensus, it’s just that each item take a lot of time for us to level off on an understanding, and also to sort out all the nuances involved,” she said. She added that earlier, during an executive session, both panels agreed that they will need to work longer hours to thresh out different issues in the remaining annexes.

Coronel-Ferrer admitted that the power sharing annex is a “much longer document” needing longer hours of work, considering that it contains lists of exclusive and concurrent powers, with each item needing to be thoroughly discussed.

However, the peace panel chair remains optimistic that this round will prove to be productive for both sides. “The important thing is we are really moving forward.”