Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Noynoy revives talks with MNLF’s Misuari

From the Daily Tribune (Jun 18): Noynoy revives talks with MNLF’s Misuari


As if the current impasse with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) over the negotiations for the setting up of the Bangsamoro substate was not enough, the Aquino administration appears to have revived negotiations with the MILF’s rival rebel faction Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), according to an MILF leader.

The MILF stressed it will not accept changes in the initialed annexes of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), apparently rejecting the government’s move to introduce revisions in the draft.

MILF vice chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar said the MILF Central Committee will study the issue on the delay of the negotiations and decide on the matter within days.

“The Central Committee might not accept these things (changes in the annexes), most probably the Central Committee will not accept,” Jaafar said.

A disgruntled senior MILF leader also accused the government’s Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) in initiating new talks with the MNLF.

Khaled Musa, deputy chairman of the MILF committee on information, has demanded the Aquino administration to explain the revival of talks with the MNLF, which are talks Musa said had long been ended.

“Why now it is called negotiation when the government especially Secretary Teresita “Ging” Deles merely referred to it as conversation,” Musa said. Deles could not be reached by The Tribune for comment.

Even the spokesmen of President Aquino were allegedly busy and had no time to conduct the regular press briefings as they all are deep into the preparation of the speech of Aquino for the coming state of the nation address (Sona) in July.

Musa added that the MNLF being involved on the wealth-sharing annex of the FAB will lead to “pressure on the MILF to accept a lesser bargain.”

“This is a form of driving a wedge between Moro groups,” he said.

Earlier, government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel chairman Prof. Miriam Ferrer said the government intends to introduce changes to the draft annex under FAB particularly on aspects of taxation, fund transfer mechanisms and revenue sharing.

Asked why the MILF is not inclined to accept the changes, Jaafar replied “those were already signed, these were initialed. Why the changes, they already went through discussion?”

Jaafar said the MILF Central Committee will be meeting anytime soon after a delegation of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) holds courtesy call to the MILF today to discuss the issue.

He said he will be presiding over the MILF Central Committee in the absence of Chairman Al Haj Murad.

“It will be presided (over) by me because Brother Murad is indisposed,” said Jaafar.
Pressed why is Murad indisposed, Jaafar said “that is internal to us.”

Ferrer has said the negotiations on the stalled FAB wealth-sharing annex will resume soon in Malaysia.

Ferrer said the negotiation had reached the point of the most crucial issues of the FAB “it is to be expected that finding agreement on details (of the FAB annexes) has been more difficult and complex,” she said.

She said on the power-sharing annex, three classes of sharing of powers were identified between the central government and the Bangsamoro regional government which are “reserved” powers or matters over which competencies are fully retained by the central government; “concurrent” powers or aspects of jurisdiction subject to the shared or joint authorities of the central and regional governments; and “exclusive” powers or competencies that are to be devolved to the Bangsamoro.”

Ferrer said some of the reserved powers were already identified which are defense and external security; foreign policy; common market and global trade provided that the power to enter into economic agreements already allowed under Republic Act 9054 shall be transferred to the Bangsamoro; coinage and monetary policy; citizenship and naturalization, and postal service.

Musa lambasted the government for talking with MNLF chairman Nur Misuari, who he described as already part of the government, and whose clout, he said, as a leader is very much suspect.

Musa described the meeting as similar to a cat playing with its own tail.

Misuari ran for the governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) during the last May 13 elections and landed a poor third place behind Mujib Hataman and Datu Pax Mangudadatu.

This is the third time Misuari ran and lost the elections in the ARMM, Musa said.
Being hand-picked by Aquino, Hataman won over his rivals handily.

Musa said the meeting between the MNLF and government representatives is supposed to take place at the Indonesian Embassy in Manila on June 17 to 19.

“But source close to the government disclosed that it is postponed indefinitely,” Musa said.

There was no reason given for the delay, except that it was attributed to lack of material time to prepare everything for the meeting.

Musa claimed that they were informed Misuari will lead the MNLF team while OPAPP Secretary Teresita “Ging” Deles will be representing the GPH.

“Their focus of discussion would be the implementing rules and guidelines on the provisions of the Final Peace Agreement, signed on September 2, 1996,” Musa said.

For years the MNLF has protested the failure of the government, since the time of President Cory Aquino, to fully implement the FPA.

“Only the P-Noy government has promised to completely carry out the terms of the agreement, in consideration of preserving and enhancing its relations with the members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, specifically the oil-rich states led by Saudi Arabia,” Musa said.

Also, the pioneer batch of Indonesian contingent composed of 10 military and five civilian officers with the International Monitoring Team (IMT) will end its tour of duty by June 24, 2013.

This was learned from the headquarters of the IMT here in Cotabato City during the farewell dinner tendered for two outgoing Malaysian IMT officers, Lt Col Rashidin and Mr Agus, a couple of days ago.

The IMT Chief of Staff the replacements for the Indonesian and Malaysian IMT will be coming soon following the commitment given by the two governments to continue deploying contingents for the IMT.

Col Khairully Head the Indonesian Contingent First Batch that started its tour of duty last June 24, 2012 and leading the IMT Team Site 5 based in Davao City.

A farewell program is already organized at Camp Darapanan by the MILF Central Committee for the outgoing Indonesian IMT officers, said Muhammad Ameen, the Chief Secretariat of the MILF Central Committee.

Ameen conveyed the endless gratitude and commendation of Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim of the MILF Central Committee and the Bansgamoro people for the invaluable commitment and support of the Indonesian Government to the GPH – MILF Peace Process, particularly with the IMT.

“We can never compensate the contributions of Col Khairully and his men but surely Allah will reward them and their families for their noble efforts and services to the Bangsamoro aspiration for peace and justice.

“We hope the Indonesian will stay with the IMT for as long as necessary,” he stressed.
IMT monitors on the ground the implementation of the security, humanitarian - development, socio-economic, and civilian protection aspects of the GPH - MILF Peace Process,” Ameen said.

The IMT is composed of Malaysia, as Head of Mission, Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, Norway and the European Union and being supported by the Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP), Mindanao Human Rights Action Center (MinHRAC), Mindanao People’s Caucus (MPC), and the Moslem Organization of Government Officials and Professionals (MOGOP).

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, expressed optimism that the “frustrations” of ground commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will not lead to renewed violence in Mindanao areas, stressing that the ceasefire agreement is holding.

Maj. Ramon Zagala, chief of the AFP-Public Affairs Office (PAO), said that both AFP and MILF in the field are following the existing mechanisms of the ceasefire between the government and the Moro group.

Zagala said that the “frustrations” now being aired by the MILF leadership are still within the ongoing peace negotiations.

“Their statements do not equate to violence…they might be getting frustrated in the process but the process is ongoing, there is no closure in the peace talks,” said Zagala.
“All can be discussed during the negotiations but their frustration does not equate to renewed violence or offensive actions,” added Zagala.

MILF Vice Chairman for Political Affairs Ghadzali Jaafar earlier said that MILF ground commanders are getting impatient and angry over what they perceived as “deliberate” delay in the peace negotiations.

Jaafar said that MILF leaders cannot wait forever for the comprehensive compact agreement and blamed the government peace panel for the delay.

“When there are pronouncements, these are part of the negotiations. It does not equate that there will be violence…we should not equate these (pronouncements) immediately to war, that’s why there is peace talks,” said Zagala.

In fact, Zagala said that there has been no report lately of any conflict between the military and the MILF, stressing that both parties are following the mechanisms of the peace process.

“It is manifested on the ground…the AFP and the MILF are abiding by the peace process. We both support the peace process,” said Zagala.

“The ceasefire between the Armed Forces and the MILF is holding,” he added.


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