Gov’t, MILF meet for ‘last talks’

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MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

ILIGAN CITY—Government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) negotiators will meet today in Kuala Lumpur for the 37th exploratory talks which could be their last in the 16-year peace negotiations facilitated by Malaysia.

The three-day meeting will principally tackle the remaining three annexes to the preliminary Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) that the parties inked on Oct. 15 last year. These are for power-sharing, wealth-sharing and normalization.

“At the rate we are going, our upcoming exploratory meeting might be the last,” MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone.

A fourth annex, on transitional arrangements and modalities (TAM), was signed last month.

When done, the four annexes plus the FAB will comprise the comprehensive agreement that spells out the measures to address the Moro people’s aspiration for self-governance.

Earlier, government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer expressed optimism the comprehensive agreement would be up for signing by April.

After last month’s breakthrough with TAM, Ferrer likened the negotiations to the crucial stretch, called the Heartbreak Hill, of the famous Boston Marathon.

“So we’re halfway through that Heartbreak Hill, and soon we will finish the marathon,” she has said.

David Gorman, outgoing country representative of the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue, which is part of the International Contact Group of the Mindanao peace process, described the parties as “just so close to the finish line.”

Gorman said the parties “crossed Heartbreak Hill” during last month’s exploratory meeting.

In a recent post in the MILF website, Iqbal was quoted as saying that “the issues concerning wealth-sharing is already settled but not yet signed.” Ryan D. Rosauro, Inquirer Mindanao

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