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Gov’t wants peace pact inked with MILF in 1st quarter

The government has reiterated its call on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to craft a peace agreement within the first quarter of 2012 as the 24th formal exploratory talks between the two parties started Monday (January 9) in Kuala Lumpur.

“The golden opportunity to craft an agreement is the first quarter of this year,” government chief negotiator Marvic Leonen said, emphasizing that “this is an administration that wants to see the solution to the Bangsamoro question in motion when it leaves in a little over four years time.“

Leonen called on the MILF to “meet the challenge of crafting an agreement soon enough, so that it could be implemented and then assessed and then adjusted before the term of the next President of the Republic.”

In his opening statement, Leonen expressed that the Philippines will “no doubt benefit with a region for Bangsamoro peoples that is not only genuinely autonomous but also one where the principles of good and effective governance is in place.”

However, the chief negotiator emphasized the importance of a working relationship and partnership with the national government and the equitable sharing of wealth and revenue generation to ensure genuine autonomy. Such issues are integral to the discussions on the framework agreement.

In line with this, Leonen said that both panels must “cautiously move forward,” learning from lessons of the past.

The government panel formally transmitted during the opening ceremonies the appointment papers of new panel members.

Leonen named Dr. Hamid Barra and Yasmin Busran-Lao as permanent members of the GPH Peace Panel. Both have joined the last round of formal talks in December last year as consultants.

“With the two additional members of our panel, we now have a complete panel of 5,” the panel chair said. Barra takes the place of Mayor Ramon Piang who now serves as an alternate member in view of his duties as the mayor of Upi, Maguindanao.

The other panel members include former Agriculture Secretary Senen Bacani and Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer.