GPH chair Ferrer asks MILF to refrain from provocative acts PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 23 January 2014 13:29

Government negotiating panel Chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, in her opening statement on the  43rd GPH-MILF Exploratory Talks being held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, yesterday asked the MILF leadership to ensure that their ranks refrain from any provocative acts that generate distrust among the populace, particularly in Zamboanga City where the MILF has opened an office in Barangay Cawit.

Ferrer said that foremost expectation in the ongoing peace talks is the end to the armed conflicts in Muslim Mindanao, and a halt to the recurrence of violence involving the various armed groups.

“Certainly, this is an expectation not only for those that will fall inside the Bangsamoro  but those areas which would co-exist side-by-side the Bangamoro such as Zamboanga City and the rest of the Zamboanga peninsula, North Cotabato, and Lanao del Norte. We take special note of Zamboanga City which has yet to fully recover from the trauma resulting from the siege launched by a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front.  In this regard, we ask the MILF leadership to ensure that their ranks refrain from any provocative acts that generate distrust among the populace,” she said.

Ferrer said the public expects that the new set of institutions will bring about meaningful autonomy.

Hower, even more important, she added is they need to see that these new institutions decisively result in good governance,  nurture public trust, and secure the rights and welfare of all, “especially the minorities among the minorities, the poorest of the poor, and other disadvantaged segments of society”.

“Equally important, these institutions must  serve as the functional channel for peaceful political contestation among politicians and would-be politicians from non-traditional sectors including from those in the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF),” she emphasized.

“In all, the public expectation is that these, our efforts, wouldtruly make a difference. A difference for the better. A difference that is sustainable. A difference that will unite rather than divide. A difference that will bring about a sense of wellbeing andnot stoke the fears and insecurities of the populace. To meet these expectations, we’d need to put the right people and appropriate mechanisms in place, the benchmarks on which to measure our progress, and the protocols that will guide our actions, and instill discipline among our ranks. We must be able to sustain the integrity of our peace process. We must intensify our “convergence efforts” among the Bangsamoro and with other non-Moro indigenous peoples (IPs). In particular, we ask you, our negotiating partners, to show the goodwill and benevolence in extending the hand of friendship with your other fellow Moros and fellow indigenous peoples, especially those, who like you, historically descended from ancestors who have called Mindanao their home,” Ferrer said.

At the same time, she added, the two negotiating panels need to be realistic enough to know we will also make mistakes.

“That we will not be able to bring everybody on that board.  That we will suffer delays. That there will be naysayers, recalcitrants and breakaways, as well as corrupt and abusive members of our respective organizations. That some will feel left behind while others will abuse and take more than their just share. That there will be opportunists and misfits for the opportunities that will be opened,” she said.

She added: “We come here as skeptical and realistic as anyone else. But these dangers never stopped us from cumulatively achieving consensus and inching our way forward. Why should these stop us now from moving on to the next stage of our work for peaceful change and reforms?

Furthermore, Ferrer said: “We are coming to terms with the bigger project of “normalization” with its diverse components — socio-economic, transitional justice and reconciliation, and security. The security aspect alone is made up of several elements – disbandment of private armed groups, decommissioning of MILF combatants and weapons, redeployment of the AFP from or within the Bangsamoro as the security situation improves, a halt to the proliferation of loose firearm, and transitional security arrangements that will see the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) collaboratively keeping the peace on the ground.  As with all explorations enthusiastically pursued and assiduously followed by the numerous stakeholders and supporters, the expectations as to what the process will deliver are enormous.”

“For this reason, we cannot afford to lose more time at the expense of the bigger task of implementation, and of the considerable progress we have already gained. The time to conclude the formal exploratory talks is now. Let us enable ourselves to move forward 100 percent to the next stage of implementation. Call it exploratory implementation if you like. After all, there is no ready-made template to these kinds of endeavors. However, from experience, we learned that a successful peace process usually requires larger doses of goodwill, determination and faith. These crucial elements, fortunately, are aplenty. They abound between and among the two parties and all the friends of this process,” she said.