• Govt, MILF sign final peace annex

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    peace

    Miriam Coronel Ferrer, chairman of the government negotiating panel (L) and MILF Chief Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal (R) sign documents during a press conference at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur on January 25, 2014. AFP PHOTO

    ZAMBOANGA CITY: The Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed on Saturday the last of the four annexes to the Bangsamoro framework that seeks to end the conflict in Mindanao.

    Peace negotiators also signed the addendum on Muslim territorial waters in the southern Philippines in the talks held in Malaysia.

    Negotiators met from Wednesday on the outskirts of Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur to tackle a “normalization” deal detailing how the rebels will hand over their weapons and the creation of a security force to police what would be a Muslim self-rule area.

    The deal is the last of four power-sharing accords before a final peace pact can be signed.

    “The peace process… is aimed to really bring about a good foundation for sustainable peace and development in Mindanao and in that sense we consider this a very important development,” Chief government negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer told reporters.

    Presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles praised the outcome of the negotiations and said the last of the four Annexes paves the way for the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

    “This is indeed a long-awaited moment that is a gift to our people at the start of a new year of renewed hope and commitment. It has been a very difficult road arriving at this major milestone of the peace process,” she said.

    Deles said in crafting the annexes, the Philippine peace panel sought at every point to abide by President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s instructions that all peace agreements to be signed must be consistent with the Constitution and must be in accordance with the capacity of the parties to deliver “politically, economically, culturally and in all ways necessary.”

    “It has been a difficult road getting to here and we know that the path ahead will continue to be fraught with challenges. As we celebrate this moment, we also affirm our readiness to undertake the tasks that shall ensure the full and satisfactory implementation of this agreement, together with the MILF, other partners and stakeholders,” she said.

    Deles added that new arrangements and mechanisms will be set up for the peace panels, assisted by selected third-parties and independent bodies, to work on the multiple tracks that will ensure the transformation of MILF forces and conflict-affected communities from the harsh ways of war to the nurturance of partnership and cooperation to unleash the unlimited potentials for the development of Mindanao, especially the communities that have been left behind.

    She said lawmakers will take on the crucial role of enacting the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which the Bangsamoro Transition Commission is now drafting.

    “President Aquino’s vision and compassion and his love and resolve for Mindanao have brought us to this new era of the Bangsamoro, where dreams of peace and prosperity may begin to overcome the nightmares of the past,” Deles said, as she praised both the peace panels and Malaysia through its facilitator Tengku Dato Abdul Ghafar, for the successful negotiations.

    She also thanked MILF chieftain Murad Ebrahim and the rebel group’s central committee for their commitment to the peace process.

    “In a world looking for peaceful solutions to all troubles, we are grateful that we have found ours.  Let us all seal it – and nurture it.  The best is yet to come.”

    Chief MILF peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said almost everybody back home smells impending success in the current peace talks. “They say the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement is just in the corner. They have diverse reasons to entertain such belief and I cannot blame them for it. In fact, I sympathize with them but not necessarily taking their view at face value. But truth is that anyone like me who has been part of the peace journey since the beginning will exactly wish and long for the day of reckoning to come soon,” Iqbal said.

    “I ask everyone not to stay in the way of these dreamers. Many find solace in dreaming and, therefore, let them continue to dream of that final peace in Mindanao while we in the MILF and government continue to strive to overcome all those that stand on our way leading to the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement,” he added.

    Peace negotiators have signed the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement and several annexes since 2012 and both sides expressed optimism that a political accord is near. But Iqbal cautioned that the final destination of the journey of peace is not within immediate reach yet.

    “We may be able to sign the comprehensive peace agreement soon as we wish, but that is not the end of the odyssey,” he said during the resumption of the peace talks in Malaysia, adding the exit agreement will formally terminate the peace negotiations if both sides complied with their part of the deal and after it is certified by Malaysia and the Third Party Monitoring Team. “Ideally that day of reckoning will come our way on or before 2016.”

    WITH AFP

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    2 Comments

    1. Why do Malaysia and the Monitoring Team have to certify national security interests that belong only to PH? Did the PH negotiating team bare their souls to come to this heralded end of the negotiations? National interests are not always in overt “Black and White.” What are the salient points of the “final agreement” ???

    2. Rosauro Feliciano on

      But why Zamboanga City appears to be hosting the Bangsamoro homeland news since we are not part of the Bangsamoro? If this is meant to conciliate the MNL to be part of helping a lasting peace, then on behalf of the city residence I agree. However, if it means to provoke the MNL to invade again Zamboanga City, then I don’t agree.