More work needed on MILF peace pact, says Malacañang


A draft peace agreement with Muslim rebels waging a separatist campaign in southern Philippines needs a lot more work before it can be signed, President Gloria Arroyo’s spokesman said Friday.

Government negotiators resumed consultations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Malaysia on Thursday expecting to set a timetable to sign an agreement on revenue-sharing on natural resources that would be a cornerstone of a political settlement. (See related stories A7.)

“There is no good news yet,” Palace spokesman Jesus Dureza told reporters.

The two sides announced in the previous week that they had reached a deal on “ancestral domain” in the Muslim-populated areas of largely Roman Catholic Philippines that the rebels claim as their homeland.

Formal peace talks with the 12,000-member guerrilla group, which signed a ceasefire with Manila in 2003, had stalled for months because of disagreements over what authority the MILF would exercise over the areas they claim as their ancestral homeland.

“The meetings are still ongoing and therefore there is no date yet set for the signing of the ancestral domain [deal],” Dureza said, while insisting that the delay was not a setback.

The type and powers of a Muslim government that would rule the area however “are still something that has to be worked on,” he added.

The nearly four decades-old rebellion has left thousands dead and left Mindanao, the southern third of the country, mired in poverty.

The government has offered a federal-style state for the Muslims, which make up a large minority in the country.

The Muslims now have a self-rule area that includes four provinces in the South, created after a 1996 peace agreement with another Muslim rebel faction.

But Dureza said any agreement to be signed with the MILF would not be automatically implemented but would have to be enacted by law or by constitutional amendments.

“Hopefully we’ll have a final settlement as a legacy of the President before she leaves office,” Dureza said. President Arroyo’s term ends in mid-2010.

“She wants to leave a peaceful legacy of a developed and peaceful Mindanao,” he added.

Esperon optimistic

Hermogenes Esperon Jr., the newly appointed presidential adviser on the peace process, was more optimistic, saying on Friday that peace in Mindanao seems to be within reach as the government and the MILF are expected to sign an agreement on ancestral domain soon.

“We are a few strides away from signing the [agreement] that includes concept, territory and governance,” he said. “We hope to ride in this momentum.”

The MILF earlier threatened that they will not sign any peace pact with the Arroyo government if they were not given self-determination.

“The concept of the agreement is more than their land and property. It defines their identity, their roots for self-governing community and giving respect to their religious and cultural beliefs,” added Esperon, a former Armed Forces chief of staff.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo described the ancestral domain issue as the big challenge for the peace process.

“We have fought long and hard on this, and we think we have done all the necessary provisions that will put both parties on the same page,” he said.

“We feel that the signing of the MOA [agreement] on ancestral domain will mark the smooth sailing of the peace process.”
— AFP with Llanesca T. Panti(ManilaTimes)

================================

My Take:

Hmm… I am seeing a newer version of MNLF-experience here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: