• Mindanao peace stakeholders remain positive, patient over GPH-MILF talks

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    Peace stakeholders in Mindanao remain positive and patient on the progress of talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation (MILF), a top MILF leader said here.

    Speaking to newsmen Thursday, MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, concurrent head of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), noted that the talks is “working” despite the arduous discussions on annexes on power-sharing and normalization during the five-day session of the GPH-MILF peace panel that started last Oct. 8 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    “Even the panels have a positive attitude on the matter, as peace is the only way we should do it,” he said.

    Iqbal said the panels are optimistic to forge a final peace pact on or before the end of 2016.

    The MILF leader’s statement came after the Tuesday signing of the BTC with a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with various civil society organizations (CSOs) in Mindanao at the BTC office here.

    The MOA signing intends to involve the CSOs in the conduct of public consultations in the crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, a mechanism that would replace the organic act that created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

    The ARMM comprises the Muslim-dominated provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Tawi-tawi, Sulu and Basilan, which will be all included in the MILF-proposed Bangsamoro entity that would replace the old autonomous region.

    Catholic priest Fr. Robert Layson, a convener of the civilian-led Mindanao People’s Caucus, said the involvement of CSOs to the peace process only shows transparency in the GPH-MILF negotiations as earlier emphasized by the talking parties.

    “Peace is not just given, it should adhere to the principle of ‘ownership’ otherwise it would be futile,” he said. PNA

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