Talks between Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front deadlocked

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have reached deadlock, but leaders of the secessionist group are urging their ground commanders to be patient to avoid a resurgence of violence in Mindanao.

"It's a stalemate," MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal told the Inquirer by phone Saturday when asked how he would describe the current status of the negotiations.

On Friday, Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chairman for political affairs, told reporters that the group was "frustrated" at the slow progress of the negotiations and that the ground commanders had started to lose faith that the four-decade-long Bangsamoro insurgency would be resolved peacefully.

Jaafar said the MILF had informed the government about how his group felt through the Malaysian facilitator of the negotiations, Datuk Abdul Ghafar Tengku.

Responding for the government yesterday, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said ending the MILF insurgency remained a top priority of President Aquino.

Roxas said Aquino met last week with his Cabinet officials involved in the peace process.

"Many of the items have generational and very broad implications, and accordingly, 'unintended consequences' are not good. Thus, P-Noy (the President's nickname) is exercising due care and utmost diligence on these matters," Roxas said, referring to wealth and power sharing, and normalization, the last three unresolved points in the annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed by the government and MILF last year.

The MILF's frustration stems from the delay in the conclusion of a final peace agreement, which appeared to be "deliberate," according to Jaafar.

MILF ground commanders "are angry because they have been waiting for a long time," Jaafar said. "As far as I am concerned, this is not a very good situation."

Prevent fighting

Iqbal said on Saturday the MILF leadership was talking with the ground commanders, "telling them to be patient."

"We should not be rash," Iqbal said in Filipino. "We're telling them that we should manage our frustrations. Our hope is that we will be able to prevent fighting from erupting again."

Sought for comment on Iqbal's statement that the talks have reached a stalemate, government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer told the Inquirer in a text message: "The [Malaysian] facilitator is on board; channels are open in order for us to discuss and settle contentious issues."

But for Iqbal, the recent exchange of notes between the two peace panels through Datu Tengku does not translate to progress in the talks.

The panels last met in Kuala Lumpur in April, but they only signed guidelines for the Mindanao sociodevelopment program called Sajahatra Bangsamoro.

"There is an exchange of notes but we don't see it working. Nothing will happen with the exchange of notes. The government is diluting the initialed wealth sharing annex. It is downgrading [the annex]," Iqbal said.

He emphasized that the MILF will not agree to any changes to the annex that the government might propose.

Stick to it

Ferrer said earlier that the government was only exercising prudence with President Aquino's review of the wealth sharing annex, but for Iqbal, the panels should "focus on what has been initialed."

"The government is changing its position. How can we be sure that it won't do the same with the two other annexes (power sharing and normalization)?" Iqbal said.

Iqbal stressed that "time is running out" on the peace negotiations.

The MILF earlier said that a peace agreement with the government must be sealed before President Aquino's term ends in 2016.

Stretching the negotiations beyond that date would jeopardize the chances of having lasting peace in Mindanao, the MILF said.

Any delay in the peace talks could lead to a resumption of fighting in Mindanao, it said.

Bangsamoro law

The Transition Commission, which will write the Bangsamoro legislation, has been convened, but it needs the annexes to the framework agreement to be able to put together the bill and submit it to Congress.

Sen. Francis Escudero, an ally of President Aquino, said Satruday that the Bangsamoro law must conform to the framework agreement, so it must not be rushed despite its urgency.

"It's an urgent matter, but it must be done right this time," Escudero said in a text message

Sen. Franklin Drilon, who is expected to be the next Senate president, said in a recent interview that the Bangsamoro law was among the priorities of the 16th Congress.

He said Congress needs to amend the charter of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to make it conform to the Bangsamoro framework agreement.

But "how the framework agreement will come up with the annexes, we still do not know," he said.

The Bangsamoro will replace the ARMM, which President Aquino described as a "failed experiment," as it did not end the Mindanao conflict.

Aquino's communications secretary, Ricky Carandang, said in a text message that the administration was doing its best to iron out the differences between the government and the MILF.

Carandang, however, declined to disclose the MILF position and the government's proposed amendments to the annexes, saying the talks had reached a "sensitive phase."

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, speaking on state-run radio on Saturday, said Philippine Palace found nothing wrong with the two sides missing the target date for signing a final peace agreement.

Both sides, she said, need more time to thresh out the annexes on wealth and power sharing, and normalization, which she described as "sensitive" issues.

"We're hoping to see a resolution to this and we're hoping to find a way to move forward the last three annexes," Valte said.

With a report from Norman Bordadora

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • SE Asia Stocks-Mixed; Thai index slips ahead of economic data

    BANGKOK, May 22 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets were flat to weaker on Friday, with the Malaysia index hitting a more than two-month low and Philippines touching an over one-week low on ... …

  • China says U.S. actions in S.China Sea "irresponsible, dangerous"
    China says U.S. actions in S.China Sea "irresponsible, dangerous"

    By Sui-Lee Wee BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Friday it was "strongly dissatisfied" after a U.S. military plane flew over part of the South China Sea near where China is building artificial islands, and called on the United States to stop such action or risk causing an accident. The Chinese navy issued eight warnings to the U.S. P8-A Poseidon, the U.S. military's most advanced surveillance aircraft, when it conducted the overflights on Wednesday, according to CNN, which had a team on board …

  • 2015 Hyundai Lateral Drift goes to Philippine Arena
    2015 Hyundai Lateral Drift goes to Philippine Arena

    The smell of burnt rubber and screeching tires are some of the highlights that will be seen at the most adrenaline-pumped drifting event of the year—the 2015 Hyundai Lateral Drift Championship series.   Held at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, the event will be the biggest venue in the drifting competition. This is the […] The post 2015 Hyundai Lateral Drift goes to Philippine Arena appeared first on Carmudi Philippines. …

  • The Richest Senators In The Philippines
    The Richest Senators In The Philippines

    The 2014 Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth for politicians and public servants are now available for anyone to … The post The Richest Senators In The Philippines appeared first on iMoney.ph. …

  • PHILIPPINES PRESS-AirAsia Philippines seeks $500 mln valuation for IPO - Inquirer

    The Philippine unit of Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia Berhad is seeking a valuation of at least $500 million for its initial public offering set within the next two years, the Philippine Daily Inquirer ... …

  • Consultant, facing joblessness, claims P5.9-M lotto pot
    Consultant, facing joblessness, claims P5.9-M lotto pot

    A 39-year-old information technology consultant, whose job contract will expire this month, has claimed his share of the 6/45 Mega Lotto’s P17.8-million jackpot in its May 13 draw, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) announced yesterday. “I could not sleep for the past several days, thinking about where I could get the money to pay my children’s tuition,” the winner told PCSO general manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas II when he received a check for P5.9 million at the PCSO’s central …

  • Cager’s daughter: I will never drive again
    Cager’s daughter: I will never drive again

    Kim Asaytono vowed never to get behind the wheel again after she hit 14 people on Tuesday night and killed one of them. Even if she gets out of jail one day, the 22-year-old daughter of former Philippine Basketball Association player Nelson Asaytono said she no longer wants to drive. Maybe, I will still ride a car but I will never drive again,” she told The STAR in an interview in her jail cell at the Manila Police District headquarters. …

  • Disaster center to rise in Clark
    Disaster center to rise in Clark

    The private sector is set to build a disaster operations center near Clark international airport in Pampanga to strengthen the country’s preparedness against natural calamities. In his closing remarks during a two-day Earthquake Resilience Conference, businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan said yesterday the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF) would build the center that would serve as base for immediate response to a disaster. Pangilinan, co-chair of the PDRF, said the disaster …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options