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GPH-MILF talks moved to April

Posted By: Chris Costuya On:


CAGAYAN DE ORO City, March 16, 2011—The next round of formal negotiations between the government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has been moved to next month, the government’s chief peace negotiator said.

Dean Marvic Leonen said the talks, originally scheduled on March 29-30, was moved because of the request of the Malaysian facilitator.

On top of the agenda for the April 27-28, 2011 negotiations are clarification of some points raised in the MILF’s 26-page draft Comprehensive Compact and concerns relating to Commander Ustadz Ameril Umbra Kato, he said.

Kato, commander of the 105th Base Command of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), allegedly broke away from the MILF and formed his own group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). The BIAF is the MILF’s armed wing.

Leonen had earlier said that Kato’s departure from the MILF and organizing another armed group raises serious concerns in the MILF’s ability to deliver on any commitment that it will be able to negotiate with the government, said government chief peace negotiator Marvic Leonen.

It will also “endanger the ceasefire mechanisms” of both the government and the MILF, he added.

He, however, said that the Kato issue is an “internal problem” that the MILF is dealing with.

“The MILF is now conducting its own negotiations inside the group,” he said.

The draft Comprehensive Compact contains the MILF’s positions on substantive issues, which according to Leonen, is “an articulation of their positions, not as a working draft for the negotiations.”

Mohaqher Iqbal, chief MILF peace negotiator, said that Comprehensive Compact which contains eleven general features “is a formula of peace through the exhaustion of all democratic remedies to solve a home-grown sovereignty-based conflict, which, following the same approach, other similar global sovereignty-based conflicts have also been successfully resolved, such as in South Sudan and Northern Ireland.”

The Compact is also a “win-win formula that benefits not only Moros and the indigenous peoples, but also the Filipinos and the government in Manila. The dividends of peace – and the lack of war itself – will reach every home not only in the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao, but Mindanao as whole and the Philippines in general. Besides refugees from Mindanao will no longer go to Sabah and therefore ceases to be a recurring problem to the Government of Malaysia.” (Bong D. Fabe)

 


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