Aug 25 2011

WE REMAIN POSITIVE ABOUT GPH-MILF PEACE NEGOTIATIONS

While Dann Pantoja (PBCI President) looks at his facilitator's notes, Rev. Norman Naromal (Senior Pastor, Davao Bible Community Church) asks the MILF Peace Panel members -- Michael Mastura, Mohagher Iqbal, and Aboud Sayed Lingga -- about the nature and intention of the proposed Bangsamoro Substate during the PCEC-MILF Inter-Faith Dialogue, March 09, 2011, KFI Bldg., Cotabato City. It was described by the MILF panelists as "heart-to-heart conversation." The event was organized by the Mindanao People's Caucus (MPC) and PBCI.

The PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI)—a fellowship of Conflict Transformation specialists who are dreaming and working for a just, radical, and active non-violent transformation of our land—is confident that the peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will continue towards the path of peace and reconciliation between the Filipinos and the Bangsamoros.

We expressed our enthusiasm regarding the August 4, 2011 meeting of President Benigno Aquino III and Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in Japan as a positive move towards peace and reconciliation.

We were praying as the 22nd Exploratory Talks in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur started last August 22nd.  We appreciate both peace panels for their hard work.

  • We thank God for the GPH Peace Panel delegation: Chief Negotiator Marvic Leonen; panel members Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Mr. Senen Bacani, Mr. Ramon Piang; panel consultant Prof. Hamid Barra; and panel secretariat Ms. Iona Jalijali, lawyers Juhaira Wahab and Armi Bayot, both legal counsels.
  • We thank God for the MILF Peace Panel delegation: Chief Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal; panel members Atty. Datu Michael Mastura, Maulana Alonto, Abhoud Lingga, Abdulla Camlian and alternate member Antonio Kinoc, and MILF panel secretariat Jun Mantawil, with Mike Pasigan and Mohajirin Ali.

We respect the MILF peace formula that calls for “the creation of a substate for the Moros.” We are aware that “this entity is not an independent state” and that “the powers over national defense, foreign relations, coinage and currency, and postal services are still the sole jurisdiction of the central government.”   We have nothing to fear in the MILF proposal, because “the substate, as the name connotes, is still part of the Philippines.”  We are aware that the proposed substate will have “no army, except police and internal security forces, tasked to do policing within the substate.”

We respect GPH Panel Chair Marvic Leonen’s “3 for 1″ Proposal—that is, one solution with three components, such as “massive economic development,” “political settlement with the MILF,” and “cultural-historical acknowledgment.”   We are aware that this approach was a result of the GPH Peace Panel’s extensive consultations with various sectors in Mindanao.

We respect MILF Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal’s commitment “to reframe the consensus points with the end in view of moving towards the comprehensive compact to bring about a negotiated political settlement of the conflict in Mindanao.”  We are aware that, for the Bangsamoros who have been suffering from decades of war and historical injustice, “the peace negotiation cannot be delayed anymore.”

We listened carefully when Mohagher Iqbal announced last August 24 that the MILF Peace Panel did not accept the GPH’s proposal because of the following reasons:

  • The GPH peace panel draft is way below the MILF expectation. The MILF peace panel thought that the Aquino administration had a better formula than the previous administrations in addressing the Moro Question and armed conflict in Mindanao;
  • The draft has no meeting point with the MILF peace panel draft; hence, will not fast track the negotiation as agreed by President Aquino and Chairman Murad in Japan last August 4;
  • The GPH draft is not solving the Moro Question and the armed conflict in Mindanao but it is a formula to prolong it;
  • The unbridled domination of the Philippine government over the Moros through the unitary setup of government is not only maintained but reenergized or reentrenched; and,
  • Practically, the GPH draft derogated all signed agreements or documents including the historic Tripoli Agreement of Peace of 2001.

We listened carefully when Marvic Leonen announced early today, August 25,  that “the government is standing firm on its proposal” and that “the government rejects the MILF’s rejection of our proposal.”  He cites the following reasons:

  • The government proposal is the most principled, realistic and practical approach to resolving the decades-old armed conflict in the south;
  • The “3 for 1” proposal or three components for one solution to the Bangsamoro problem was crafted within the bounds of the Philippine Constitution, which allows a lot of flexibility;
  • The 20-page proposal was the result of the series of consultations the peace panel conducted with various stakeholders in Mindanao;
  • It seeks not only to provide a just and lasting peace to the troubled south but more so to improve and uplift the lives of the people who have long suffered from the brutality of decades-long armed conflict;
  • The GPH proposal reflects the sincere desire of the President for permanent peace in Mindanao obtained in a fair, just and transparent manner.

On one hand, the MILF is emphasizing a prompt action on the part of the GPH to arrive at thefinish line of this journey—which is mostly a journey of suffering on the part of the Bangsamoros because of historical injustice. On the other hand, the GPH is emphasizing awell-processed action towards the same finish line, when the final agreement will be embraced by all segments and sectors of the whole Philippine society, and therefore be effectively and efficiently sustained permanently. The finish line, we believe, is a comprehensive agreement where the Bangsamoros, the Indigenous People, and the Migrants can claim themselves to be enjoying their respective rights to self-determination in this beautiful land of Mindanao.

We have met and have interacted personally with both GPH and MILF peace negotiators in various occasions.  We are confident that both parties have the characters and skills of a genuine and sincere set of peace-builders.

Along with all the Filipinos and the Bangsamoros, we await a reciprocal show of sincerity, openness and commitment from both the GPH and the MILF to move the peace process forward.

For more information, contact: Rev. L. Daniel Pantoja, PBCI President & CEO, telephone +63 908 888 8017 or email: daniel@peacebuilderscommunity.org.

 

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