The peace talks cannot be sacrificed.
The government on Friday, August 9, reiterated that the recent bombing incidents in Cagayan de Oro City and Cotabato City would not derail the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is now in its final stages.
"If anything, this makes the determination even stronger," Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles told reporters. "The resolve to address all this – all the security concerns – becomes stronger."
Deles said, without a doubt, the peace process toward the creation of the proposed Bangsamoro political entity remains on track.
The government and the MILF only need to finish negotiations on two more annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed in October 2012 before the final peace pact can be signed.
These annexes pertain to power-sharing arrangements between the central government and the Bangsamoro, and the process of normalization, which includes the issues of policing and decommissioning of arms.
In July, both sides signed a crucial wealth-sharing agreement that will give the future Bangsamoro political entity 75% of revenues from taxes and metallic minerals collected within its jurisdiction. The last round of talks was conducted against a backdrop of attacks by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, an MILF breakaway group.
Meanwhile, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission – the body tasked to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law – has already conducted 4 meetings as of July.
After at least 15 years of negotiations, the parties aim to sign a final peace pact within the year.
Rewards for suspects being readied
President Benigno Aquino III earlier said the government is eyeing 3 groups behind the series of attacks who have joined together to sabotage the peace process in Mindanao.
But the government is also looking at a combination of other motives, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas said.
For example, police are exploring the angle that Cotabato City Administrator Cynthia Guiani-Saudi was the possible target.
Amid all this, Deles noted how the MILF strongly condemned the attacks, especially as they were conducted during the holy month of Ramadan.
Shortly after the Cotabato City bombing attack, MILF Secretariat chair Muhammad Ameen said in a statement posted on their official website Luwaran.com: “Whoever did this deserved the wrath of Allah."
The government will soon reveal the monetary rewards to be offered to those who will provide information that can solve the recent bombings in Cagayan de Oro City and Cotabato City.
Several details are still being finalized, said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, and some discussions on national security could not be revealed to the publlic.