Wealth sharing at heart of gov’t-MILF stalemate

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The secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said the resumption of peace negotiations in July hinges on whether or not Malacañang’s proposals on wealth-sharing between the autonomous Bangsamoro region and the government would be acceptable.

“We still have to look at the papers they gave us…If we find it right, we may have a meeting. But at this point in time, nothing is fixed yet,” MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal told the Inquirer by phone.

Negotiations brokered by Malaysia hit a snag when Malacañang requested a “review” of the wealth-sharing annex initialed by the peace negotiators.

The government’s chief negotiator, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, announced the other day she had submitted the government’s full proposals on the wealth-sharing issue to the MILF and that formal talks would resume in July.

But Iqbal said the peace negotiations would continue to be at a stalemate until they had another formal round of talks.

“We will not respond (to the government) except in a formal setting, nothing has changed yet,” Iqbal said.

Asked if the MILF’s trust in President Aquino remained, Iqbal answered in the affirmative but qualified his statement. “Our feeling is he can still deliver. He has said that time and again. The trust is still there but that trust is contingent on the delivery of what has been agreed upon. It is not an absolute trust.”

Iqbal reiterated the MILF position was to “stick to the Feb. 27 (wealth-sharing) document” that was initialed by the two panels.

An Inquirer source privy to the negotiations said the MILF was not likely to agree to a 50-50 percent wealth sharing with the central government, more so, going below 50 percent.

The source asked for anonymity as he was not authorized to discuss details of the annexes to the draft peace accord between the government and the MILF but was willing to share some details with the Inquirer to provide a clear view of what the controversy over the wealth-sharing annex was all about.

The source said the initialed wealth-sharing annex indicated “something like a 75-25 percent across the board sharing,” in favor of the MILF.

The source said the MILF believed the new Bangsamoro entity must get a bigger share than the central government because the resources would come from Mindanao.

“That share is for the development of Mindanao. For the MILF, it is legally and morally right for them to demand that (percentage of sharing),” the source said.

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