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Gov’t, MILF panels tackle details of autonomy setup

/ 10:07 PM January 09, 2012

ILIGAN CITY—Peace negotiators of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) appear to be in agreement that a future Bangsamoro self-governance entity must essentially be “genuinely autonomous” of the central government.

“We know we share with you this vision and that much of what we need to discuss would be how to get there and how this new political rearrangement would look like,” chief government negotiator Marvic Leonen said in a statement during opening rites of the 24th exploratory talks in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

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“There is no doubt that the entire Republic of the Philippines will benefit from 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,” Leonen said.

He said the autonomous government for the Bangsamoro people must be “democratically elected in free, clean and honest elections ensured by security forces that are neutral from political interests and a vibrant and assertive civil society.”

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Under a democratic setup, he said, “electoral exercises provide the mandate and ensure that we truly have a fighting chance of allowing the governed to actively participate and hold our leaders to account.”

Leonen said genuine autonomy must not negate the need for “a clear working relationship with the national government in many aspects.”

“National government is relevant. This can be clearly seen even in the document of the MILF, the proposed Revised Comprehensive Compact,” he noted.

Working relations

Leonen disclosed that defining this working relationship between a future autonomous region and the national government “takes prominence in our own proposals.”

“It is also clear that any autonomous relationship should include the equitable sharing of wealth and the generation of revenues to make the autonomous government credible in producing opportunities for its people in an environmentally sustainable manner as well as allow the national government to provide the kind of assistance that should be expected of it,” he pointed out.

Leonen urged the MILF to share the government’s desire “of crafting an agreement soon enough…”

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“In our reckoning, the golden opportunity to craft such an agreement is this first quarter of this year,” he stressed.

“Our standing instructions from our President are to work earnestly and with due and deliberate dispatch careful to consult all constituents that we also represent along the way,” he added.

Leonen said that if the parties come to agreement and begin implementing its provisions soonest, the crafted political solution to the Moro conflict could still be “assessed and then adjusted before the next term of the next President.”

During the opening rites, Leonen introduced two new regular members of the government panel—Dr. Hamid Barra, former president of the National Ulama Council, and peace activist Yasmin Busran-Lao.

Barra, who used to be panel consultant, replaced Mayor Ramon Piang of Upi, Maguindanao, who becomes an alternate member, while Lao completes the five-member panel.

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TAGS: Autonomy, Bangsamoro, Government, MILF, news, peace process, Regions
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