July 24, 2014

Moro: MILF and Philippine Government to Revive Talks

In order to save the peace deal that was established a few years ago between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine Government, and intended to make Bangsamoro an autonomous region, representatives of both parties will meet again in late July 2014 and work towards the finalizing of the already-existing draft law.

Below is an article published by Inquirer:

A third meeting between President Benigno Aquino III and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Murad Ebrahim is likely to take place before the Chief Executive addresses a joint session of Congress on July 28 [2014], the Inquirer has learned.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, center in back row, and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, right in back row, congratulate Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, following a signing ceremony for a tentative peace agreement between the MILF and the government which Malaysia helped broker, at Malacanang Palace. Others are Malaysian peace broker Tengku Abdul Ghafar, right back to camera, and MILF chair Al Haj Murad. Mr. Aquino and Murad need to thresh out the issues hounding the draft Bangsamoro basic law, which would establish a new autonomous Muslim region in Mindanao, as agreed upon by the government and the MILF.

A reliable source privy to the talks told the Inquirer yesterday [19 July 2014] that the meeting between the President and the MILF head appeared necessary to save the peace agreement after Mr. Aquino’s legal team allegedly watered down the draft law prepared by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal heads the Transition Commission.

It was not clear where the third meeting between Mr. Aquino and Murad would take place.

President Aquino and Murad first met in Tokyo, Japan, in August 2011 to revive peace talks between the government and the MILF, which had waged a decades-long war in Mindaano, fighting for a separate state.

The meeting ultimately opened the peace negotiations where the MILF agreed to having a Bangsamoro autonomous region.

A peace agreement between the government and the MILF was signed in March this year.

But the alleged dilution of the draft law prompted another meeting between the President and Murad in Hiroshima, Japan, last month [June 2014].

The Manila leg of the five-day “workshop” being done by government and MILF negotiators had a rough start on Friday [18 July 2014], the source said.

The workshop appeared to be a review of the annexes on power, wealth sharing, normalization, and transitional modalities that made up the peace agreement against the long list of comments of the President’s legal team on the draft law.

Just like the “workshop” held in Kuala Lumpur a week ago, the Manila workshop started off with some tense moments between the two panels, the source said.

But Murad had told Iqbal and the rest of the MILF panel not to give up on the efforts to save the draft law.

“Chairman Murad told the MILF panel to stay put, keep engaged and temper their emotions,” the source said.

Moreover, Murad appeared to understand that President Aquino was focused on handling the fallout after the Supreme Court declared his economic stimulus plan, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), unconstitutional.