Gov’t receives MILF reply to draft agreement


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/02 July) – The Philippine government received Tuesday the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) reply to its draft memorandum of agreement on the ancestral domain, government peace panel chair Rodolfo Garcia announced.


Garcia, who retired as Armed Forces vice chief of staff, told MindaNews the MILF has counter proposals he cannot as yet divulge.

But he quickly added “there are good possibilities.”

“Once cleared by our side, I believe talks will then be scheduled,” he said.

MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal told MindaNews Wednesday morning that their “proposal this time is multiple choice. Three options for GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) to choose one, for each of the remaining three issues on governance.”

“I can’t go into details,” Iqbal said but he acknowledged the “three governance issues” are the only kinks that need to be ironed out.

Iqbal, like his counterpart Garcia, sounded optimistic. “I think the gap will eventually close if GRP really wants to sign (the agreement on ancestral domain).”

The MILF received the government peace panel’s draft through the Malaysian facilitator, on June 25 and sent its reply last Sunday, June 29.

The Philippine government’s peace panel received a copy on July 1.

No date has been set for the government and MILF peace panels to meet in Kuala Lumpur.

This as the government’s policy on the “primacy of the peace process” was put to test again Tuesday with military commanders holding on amid harassments from the MILF and calls for engagement from their own men.

“If (Major) General (Raymundo) Ferrer (commander of the 6th Infantry Division) will commit my battalion, the situation will be irreversible,” a field officer in one of the areas that were reportedly harassed by MILF forces, told MindaNews.

Ferrer, a division commander who adheres to the primacy of the peace process and whose leadership is marked by peace-building seminars within his command, did not.

The field officer said the MILF central committee “must not be ambiguous in what they are talking about and what they are doing on the ground.”

”Tell them to be patient and just adhere to the ceasefire agreement. The Malaysians (the facilitator of the talks ) will not lose. We will lose when fighting ensues,” he said.

Last week, a paramilitary element was killed and hundreds were displaced in Maitum, Sarangani when MILF forces swooped down on the area.

On June 30, a farmer was injured in Barangay Malamote, Matalam town. On July 1, an unidentified farmer was killed when suspected members of the MILF clashed with elements of the Army’s 40th Infantry Battalion in sitio Tugal, barangay Pagangan-Uno in Aleosan, North Cotabato.

Iqbal said “the serious provocation is coming from the government by dilly-dallying, not complying with the signed documents… We will look deeply into the larger picture,” he said.

Iqbal said they were “on our way home from Kuala Lumpur.”

“We submitted our reply to the GRP draft,” he said. Only the MILF panel representatives went to Kuala Lumpur. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

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