• Palace: Talks with MNLF still stands despite charges vs Misuari

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    Malacañang on Wedneday said that the peace agreement with the Moro National Liberations Front (MNLF) still stands despite the rebellion charges against its leader.

    MNLF founder Nur Misuari, Ustadz Habier Malik and 59 others were slapped with rebellion for allegedly “conspiring to rise publicly and take arms against the Republic of the Philippines.”

    In a press conference, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda reassured that the Aquino government remains committed to the pact that both parties signed in 1996.

    “The 1996 Final Peace Agreement stands. We honor that peace agreement regardless who the signatory was,” he said.

    Misuari is a signatory to the 1996 peace accord signed during the Ramos administration.

    The Palace official, on other hand, downplayed speculations that the government is abrogating the peace agreement with MNLF.

    “The accusation that we abandoned, we neglected MNLF that was being stated by the spokespersons of Nur Misuari, are not true,” Lacierda said, citing the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan program provided by the government for peace and development activities with the rebel group.

    “We have engaged the MNLF communities. Those who have chosen to return to the fold, we have assisted them and this is part of the program,” he added

    Following the 1996 agreement, the government began peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MLF) in 1997.

    The government and the MILF last year signed a framework agreement for the Bangsamoro, a new political entity eyed to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao

    Meanwhile, Lacierda said that the Palace is very hopeful that the comprehensive agreement with MILF would be signed and completed.

    “The instruction is to move forward, and let’s hope that we can come up with an agreement on the power sharing annex,” he  added

    The government and the MILF are threshing out the final details on how power will be shared between the Bangsamoro government and the central government, as well as the process of normalization.

    RESUME TALKS

    On Tuesday, both the government and MILF panels resumed their 41st round of talks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    Both parties had high hopes deal on power-sharing and normalization would be signed this round. They comprise the last two annexes of the final peace pact.

    The peace panels already signed two of the four annexes like the Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities and Annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing.

    The annexes, along with the Framework agreement on  the Bangsamoro, will form part of the Comprehensive Agreement which both parties hope to sign within the year.

    In her opening statement, government chief negotiator Miriam Ferrer said that both parties assured the public of a fully enforceable peace agreement.

    “Indeed, if it has taken us a long while to put down in words and phrases in the Annexes, it is because we want to guarantee the integrity of the outcome,” she said

    “We need to ensure the justness of the solutions we are adopting for one and all, so that with the faith of our fellow Filipinos, this agreement will live and let live the hopes for less strife, good governance, harmony, cooperation and a better life among the Bangsamoro and the whole country,” Ferrer added. CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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