Implementation key to peace deal: gov’t

Posted on October 01, 2012

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Effective implementation with the public’s support is key to the success of the southern peace talks beyond the signing of any agreement, an official said at the weekend.

"Implementation is where the real hard and complicated work begins in achieving peace in Mindanao," Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Q. Deles said in a statement, days before the government and Moro negotiators meet tomorrow in Kuala Lumpur for further talks.

She then rallied for public support "so that when we finally reach an agreement, every one of us will accompany the process, vigilant against spoilers and those who aim to render useless our gains in the peace process."

A framework agreement is being eyed to ensure "that people are clear with what the commitments are towards achieving just and lasting peace," she said, but added that this will not be the final peace deal.

The framework agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will be presented to the public before any signing will be undertaken, said Ms. Deles.

"We are at an opportune time because we are close to a framework agreement with the MILF," she said.

Local officials in the autonomous Muslim region, whose areas will be part of the proposed new autonomous political entity, have expressed support on the progress of the negotiations.

Mujiv S. Hataman, acting governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said local officials of the five provinces in the region are "squarely behind the efforts of the Aquino administration to forge a framework peace agreement with the MILF before the end of the year."

ARMM groups the provinces of Basilan, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

"Our presence is only transitional," Mr. Hataman was quoted in a separate statement issued at the weekend.

Mr. Hataman was earlier appointed as caretaker of the Muslim region when the national government passed Republic Act No. 10153 that synchronized the ARMM elections with the midterm elections on May 13, 2013.

Mr. Hataman’s sentiments have been shared by local chief executives in Central Mindanao -- which will also be covered by the new political division -- provided that a plebiscite will be held on the proposal.

"We have full confidence on the peace panel. The province of North Cotabato is supportive of the peace accord with the guarantee of a plebiscite," said North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza.

In a statement, Ms. Mendoza said she met her town mayors on Wednesday last week on the possible inclusion of their areas in the expanded autonomous government in Mindanao. The officials are from Pikit, Aleosan, Midsayap, Pigcawayan, Carmen and Kabacan.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said these municipalities in North Cotabato "are deemed to be affected in the proposed creation of a new autonomous political entity."

It was the first time that the government gave a hint on the areas in Mindanao that will be part of the new political entity. Lack of public support was cited for the failed proposed territorial deal of the Arroyo administration with the Moro rebels.

The Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain was declared as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2008 over claims by local officials and residents of lack of consultation in crafting the proposed agreement.

The failed deal resurrected clashes between the military and rebels displacing over half-a-million residents. Truce was reestablished in mid-2009 but the rebels opted to wait for the new administration who took over in mid-2010. -- Darwin T. Wee