From Website of OPPAP
Posted on Wednesday, 7 December, 2011 - 17:37
“This administration is looking forward to forge a negotiated political settlement in the first quarter of next year.”
Kuala Lumpur, Dec. 7 - Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel chair Marvic Leonen challenged the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to come up with a peace pact in 2012.
“This administration is looking forward to forge a negotiated political settlement in the first quarter of next year,” he said on Wednesday as the 23rd formal exploratory talks between the two parties concluded in the Malaysian capital.
Leonen described this round of formal talks as productive. “I agree with my counterpart (Mohagher Iqbal) that we have moved forward. The exchange between the two parties in the past three days has been frank, cordial and very professional.”
“We have laid our cards on the table, talking straight following daang matuwid (straight path) or Al sirat al-mustaqim,” he said. “We have now to build a stronger partnership – a partnership built on the strength of both – government and MILF. We agree with the MILF that any partnership should be sought at the soonest possible time to real autonomy.”
The GPH panel chair said he envisions the peace agreement with the MILF as “inspired by the Islamic virtue of Amanah qilafah or trust, stewardship and accountability.”
“It is in that spirit that we made a proposal to the MILF,” he added.
Leonen said that President Aquino has likewise expressed high hopes on forging a peace pact in the soonest possible time. In a media forum on Tuesday, the President said that he is “reasonably confident that we are both (gov't and MILF) after the same goal which is the attainment of a just peace.”
“It’s really a question of semantics,” President Aquino stated. “They (MILF) have a phraseology that we are not exactly comfortable with; we have phraseology that they think is a little bit weak.”
“But I think, in substance, we are on the same level, on the same plane and we will get closer and closer to that meeting of the minds with everybody’s assistance, of course,” the President added.
On the same note, MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal said that “the talks have moved forward,” but both parties still have a long way to go. “Hard and prolonged discussions for the past three days is just a tip of the iceberg,” he added.
Malaysian facilitator Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed also conveyed the same confidence. “I see some light, progress towards achieving real and lasting peace.”
IMT mandate to be renewed
In a joint statement, both parties agreed to renew for another year the mandate of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) which will expire in March 2012. Likewise, they agreed to adopt the Terms of Reference (TOR) of its Humanitarian, Rehabilitation and Development Component.
Composed of representatives from Malaysian, Brunei, Libya, Japan, Norway and European Union, the IMT monitors the ceasefire, civilian protection component, rehabilitation and development, and socio-economic agreements between the government and the MILF.
Both parties are set to meet again in January 2012 to continue their discussions on the substantive issues.
In closing, they extended their appreciation to President Aquino “for his commitment to a just and lasting peace in Mindanao” and to Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tan Haj Abdul Razak “for his continued support in the facilitation of the GPH-MILF peace talks.”They also thanked the members of the International Contact Group, namely Japan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Conciliation Resources, Muhammadiyah and The Asia Foundation, who were present during the talks