Rebels firming up proposals

Posted on October 25, 2012

IPIL, ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY -- Moro peace negotiators are finalizing proposals on power and wealth sharing, and normalization to give flesh to the Framework Agreement preparatory to a final peace pact.

Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator of the MILF, told BusinessWorld his group is fine-tuning positions on sharing power and resources, and the security aspect of the future Bangsamoro region which will replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Mr. Iqbal, however, declined to reveal the general thrusts of the MILF on the three fundamental points that will serve as annexes of the Framework Agreement.

The government and MILF have agreed to create a ministerial form of government in the proposed Bangsamoro region.

The new region will cover Isabela City in Basilan, Cotabato City, six municipalities in Lanao del Norte, and some villages in North Cotabato, in addition to the five provinces in ARMM, namely, Basilan, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. It will also have its own policies on taxation.

For her part, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Q. Deles said the government has started work on the proposals.

An ad hoc interagency team on normalization met on Monday, she said, in preparation for the resumption of talks in Kuala Lumpur next month.

The meeting was held to harmonize agency capabilities and the Framework Agreement’s provision on normalization.

Those who attended the meeting were Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima, Rear Admiral Miguel Jose S. Rodriguez of the military’s Civil Military Operations, Political Affairs Undersecretary Jose Luis Martin C. Gascon and ARMM Governor Mujiv S. Hataman, among others.

Ms. Deles said Section 8, Article 1 of the Framework Agreement defined normalization as the state when “communities can return to conditions where they can achieve their desired quality of life, which includes the pursuit of sustainable livelihoods and political participation within a peaceful deliberative society.”

Government chief negotiator Mario Victor F. Leonen described normalization as “[establishing] into the areas a normal situation of peace where it is not dominated by guns or the old politics.”

The normalization phase will include the decommissioning of Moro rebels as well as the transfer of law enforcement activities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the Bangsamoro region to a police force. -- Darwin T. Wee