Reading the 11-point summaries of the GPH-MILF Peace Talks in Kuala Lumpur

When I used to cover Davao City, I have become more familiar with the GPH-MILF peace negotiations. Even if it is only the committees on the cessation of hostilities who meet, they issue a joint statement to some how shed light on the coverage of meeting.

I expected this from the talks in KL but the reports said there was none.This is not a good sign, if we look at it that way.  I think having no joint statement is more sincere an act, than forcing one when there is none.Is it right to have one just to play with symbolism?

Many people expected a lot from the talks. After that “historic” meeting in Japan between President Benigno Aquino III and the MILF’ chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, the stakes are high on “expediting the peace process”.

As a journalist who covered this from afar, my reading is, are we supposed to mistake “expediting the process” with taking short cuts? Unless we expected the negotiators to be rubbing on a bottle for a genie to make wishes easily his command.

My additional notes/points to ponder/ answers to be researched include:

– The government responded to the MILF proposal at least six months after the former’s proposal was submitted.How much has changed of the government’s position within the next six months? It took the government six months? That’s expediting? Should we expect the MILF central committee to express its position within the same time frame (of six months)?

– Chief government negotiator Leonen’s said: ““We look at it from the point of view not of how wide the gap is but we look at it from the point of view of what can be agreed upon” on the MILF panel’s comment that the two proposals are “Heaven and Earth.” I need to read and search more to grasp this.

– on the frame used by the government for “partnership” there is really a model to this?  Part of how its run is done “jointly” and another part, separately?

Back to the talks. Somehow, the turn of events was never smooth. There was uneasiness. Thanks to the International Contract Group, both panels made clarifications over a post-adjournment meeting.

I may not be able to cover this story directly but I want to follow through it in details. This is precisely why I am reposting some of the articles I have read on the coverage of the peace talks. I hope I can key in some reflections to add some personal value and to check  if indeed my mind and heart can process what my eyes can read.

Somehow, this is redemption for Istambay sa Mindanao blog.

Excerpts from: “The GPH and MILF peace panels’ proposals: their 11-point summaries” (Source: http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2011/08/23/the-gph-and-milf-peace-panels%E2%80%99-proposals-their-11-point-summaries/)

The MILF listed 11 “General features of the MILF comprehensive compact draft” which its peace panel chair, Mohagher Iqbal, read in his introductory statement after submitting on February 10, 2011 the revised draft of the MILF on the comprehensive compact containing the proposed negotiated political settlement of what they refer to now as the “Moro Question and the armed conflict in Mindanao.”

The  peace panel chair of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH), Marvic Leonen,listed 11 “characteristics of the government proposal”

The MILF proposal provides for an “asymmetrical state-substate relationships, wherein powers of the central government and state government are clearly stated, aside from those powers they jointly exercise, which are also defined in this draft.”

The government proposal “contains ideas for reforming the relationship between national and regional government” and  provides that  reform of political relations “takes into account the realities of socio-economic underdevelopment, demographic shifts and diversity across communities.”

Leonen in his opening statement on Day 1 of the three-day talks here said he would  rather that the proposals “be different: honestly different.”

“Better if the frameworks that inform the proposals be different: honestly different.  It is only then that the issues that truly matter to both sides can be given more space at this negotiating table,” he said.

The 11-point summaries of  both panels are in general terms. Here, MindaNews lists down the 11 points, based on the numbering of the respective parties. Most of the  points in the GPH summary are directly in response to the same number in the MILF proposal. Some of the government’s responses to the other  points in the MILF proposal are found in the other numbers.

MILF
1. It 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;

GPH
1. This proposal contains a formula to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in our country.  It presents a practical and bold approach to create the conditions for meaningful and effective governance through a sustainable partnership that will bring in the needed social services and projects that provide the springboards for sustainable economic development. Unlike past administrations, this government is poised to use its massive resources and its theme of good governance for this undertaking.

MILF
2. It is a proposal to correct and solve the one-sidedness or imbalance of totality of relationship between Filipinos and Moros, the former continue to be rulers and sole decision-makers, while the latter as mere second class citizens without any role in national decision-making;

GPH
2.  This proposal is founded on partnership.  It has the potential to create mutual trust amongst peoples of our country, heal the wounds of conflict, mobilize and capacitate Bangsamoro leaders and therefore increase understanding among all Filipinos of every ascribed identity.  It is a partnership that will therefore set the stage for more enlightened political discussion amongst all parties.  This discussion, in turn, will effectively point the way to the realization legal reforms that may be truly necessary.

MILF
3. It gives modest recognition and justice to Mindanao, the ancestral homeland of the unconquered Moros, as historically considered and treaties-entrenched “foreign territory” not only during the Spanish regime in the Philippines but even during the American regime when they created the “Moro Province”, which they administered separately from Luzon and the Visayas;

GPH
3.  This proposal is politically comprehensive. It contains ideas for reforming the relationship between national and regional government.  But, it also meets the challenge of finding viable mechanisms that increase the possibility for finding convergence of programs among all those who claim to represent the Bangsamoro, Christian settlers and indigenous peoples within the conflict affected areas. The reform of political relations takes into account the realities of socio-economic underdevelopment, demographic shifts and diversity across communities.

MILF
4. It affords the people of the future Bangsamoro state to have a modest share and taste of the remaining 7-9 percent of the lands, wealth and resources of what used to be 98 percent at the turn of the last century;

GPH
4.  The proposal works with what is available and doable within the next few years. It does not start with contentious and divisive issues whose resolution may not be realizable as yet.     The proposal thus realistically meets the urgent and present needs of many communities who were the victims of colonial oppression, postcolonial neglect, misguided leaders and past abuses of some national leaders while preparing for the viability of longer term and mutually agreed upon solutions to the Bangsamoro problem.

MILF
5. It balances the issues of state’s sovereignty and people’s right to self-determination, an issue not even the United Nations has fully succeeded to settle to this day;

GPH
5.   The proposal works on the premise that the form of government that should be entrenched should be able to deliver good and effective governance, social services and foster economic development within the soonest possible time.

MILF
6. It provides for an asymmetrical state-substate relationships, wherein powers of the central government and state government are clearly stated, aside from those powers they jointly exercise, which are also defined in this draft;

GPH
6.  This proposal shows government’s awareness of the extent of the legal and political powers of the President.  However, it is also a political document that is intended to cause public discussion that can support future debates, when it becomes necessary, in other constitutional forums such as the legislature and the courts.

MILF
7. It gives modest recognition to the Moro aspiration for separate national identity, as Bangsamoro, while retaining their Filipino citizenship;

GPH
7.  The proposal recognizes the identity of the Bangsamoro and its history. This proposal takes this history into consideration but avoids simplification of the solutions for a complex and myriad problem.  The Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) may have been a failed experiment in the past; but the current proposal is based on a more balanced understanding of whether its past failure was due to its structure and the systems that it spawned or the quality of the past national or regional leadership. This proposal presents the possibility of a more empowered, more workable, and thus, more genuine autonomy of a Bangsamoro region.

MILF
8. It is a formula that maximizes people’s creativity, resourcefulness, initiative, and determination to survive and develop themselves by their own sweats and tears, with their ties with the central government effectively intact and recognized;

GPH
8.  This proposal continues a discussion on how revenue and the use of resources could ensure enhance autonomy.  However, it also introduces the idea that ecological and cultural diaspora as a result of unbridled exploitation of resources have effects far beyond political boundaries.  The proposal therefore includes a system of cooperation between the national and regional government to ensure sustainable futures.

MILF
9. It is a formula that perfectly blends the modern-day democratic principle that sovereignty resides in the people and the ingredients of Islamic principle of shura (consultation) whereby people participate in running their affairs;

GPH
9.  This proposal starts a discussion on the process of normalization.  This includes weapons disposal, disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation of combatants.  It also includes processes to achieve restorative justice.

MILF
10. It provides for a clear mechanism whereby implementation of the agreement and the normalization process go hand-in-hand. In this scheme, mutual trust is effectively developed and entrenched as the parties continue to comply with their commitments, with the  participation of an international third party monitoring group; and

GPH
10.  This proposal is founded on the belief that legal reforms do not by themselves bring about social change.  Rather, this proposal proceeds from the fundamental faith that no legal reform can take root without genuine public consensus.

MILF
11. It is 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.

GPH
11.   This proposal seeks to correct our historical narratives so that it truly acknowledges the struggles of all Filipinos including those with ascribed Bangsamoro identity.  It believes that the various struggles of each group of people within our State contribute to the latter’s strength.  The proposal seeks to entrench the retelling of our true historical narratives across all generations through existing mechanisms within the powers of government.

The MILF has yet to comment on the government’s proposal.

The two panels ended their opening session Monday at 1:40 p.m. They will resume sessions Tuesday and Wednesday at the Executive Boardroom, Royale Chulan Hotel.

END OF EXCERPTS on the story
by Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews
The full report accessibility here. :

About mindanaw

A Journalist from Mindanao

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