World | Philippines

MILF striving to wrap up final peace pact by May

Transition panel for Bangsamoro basic law to conduct consultations

  • By Gilbert P. Felongco, Correspondent
  • Published: 16:51 April 4, 2013
  • Gulf News

Manila: A top Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) official reiterated that they are working meet a May deadline for the signing of a final peace agreement with the government.

“Let us strive for that,” Mohagher Eqbal, MILF chief peace negotiator, told Gulf News in a text message. The MILF official added that their counterparts in the government peace panel, headed by Government of the Philippines (GPH) Peace Panel Chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer would also do the same.

Earlier, President Benigno Aquino III said he hoped to sign a final peace agreement by May this year to formally end the conflict in Mindanao and usher in development in the affected areas. The impending final resolution also takes place during an election month where Filipinos are expected to vote for their next set of leaders and legislators.

Last October, Aquino and the MILF signed a Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, a document which serves as a road map for a political-economic solution to the conflict in the South that had dogged the southern main island in Mindanao for decades.

Consultations

Meanwhile, the Transition Commission (TC), the body mandated to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law, is set to undertake consultations in all communities that will be covered by the law.

“If possible the last man, last woman will be consulted. So that they will own the process; they will own the basic law,” said Eqbal, who also chairs the TC, said.

During a press conference in suburban Pasig City on Wednesday for the ceremonial opening of the Commission’s first en banc meeting, Eqbal said the wide participation of people is necessary for the success of the Bangsamoro Basic Law’s success.

“The people must own it. The people in Mindanao, everybody,” he added.

For his part, Eqbal maintained that the current issue involving Sabah has never been part of the agenda in the 16- year GPH-MILF peace negotiations.

The involvement of the Sabah matter, which pertains to the Sultanate of Sulu’s claim on the resource rich peninsula as part of its ancestral dominion, been an unexpected inclusion on the peace issue in the South.

Eqbal, nevertheless, expressed hope that it will be resolved. “What we would like to appeal is for parties (the two governments) to settle the issue peacefully.”

Made up of 15 members coming from various ethnic backgrounds, the TC will begin its work on drafting the Basic Law following its first meeting.

The draft Basic Law will be certified as urgent by the president, submitted to Congress for passage, and subjected to a plebiscite in proposed core territory of the Bangsamoro. Once the law is ratified, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will be abolished and the new Bangsamoro region will be established.

Gulf News
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