Peace deal deferred anew

Posted on April 13, 2013

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- The government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ended talks yesterday without reaching a deal on key issues, pushing back anew the prospect of signing a final peace agreement after next month’s elections.

In a joint statement, the two sides said negotiations will proceed even beyond the formal talks in Kuala Lumpur.

“The panels continued to find ways to resolve remaining issues on the annexes on wealth sharing, power sharing and normalization, agreeing to exchange notes through the facilitator in the coming days,” read the statement signed by MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, government chief negotiator Miriam Colonel-Ferrer and Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed, the Malaysian facilitator.

“The panels agreed to meet again after the 13 May 2013 Philippine elections,” the statement further read.

The 37th round of exploratory talks inked the Sajahatra Bangsamoro, the development program jointly undertaken by the government and the MILF for the delivery of basic services to target communities in Mindanao.

For the annexes on wealth sharing, power sharing and normalization, the statement only noted that “affirmed their commitment to finally settle these issues soon so that all three annexes may be signed without undue delay.”

Of the three concerns, Moro rebels have earlier noted challenges to crafting the annex on normalization or the disarmament of Moro rebels.

“Discussions on the normalization annex by the technical working groups continued, moving the parties towards an agreement on the architecture for the normalization process,” read the statement.

Early this week, the MILF said it wants the negotiations to focus on ensuring the welfare of Moros in running their affairs over ancestral lands in Mindanao.

This is the only way to wipe away insecurities that have haunted Moros that pushed them to fight the government for more than four decades, it added.

Mr. Iqbal said discussions on normalization should go beyond the gradual disarming of Moros.

He did not elaborate. -- Darwin T. Wee