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Parliament eyed for Moro self-rule

/ 11:58 PM February 16, 2012

ILIGAN CITY—The Aquino administration has given its nod to a parliamentary form of government for Moros demanding self-rule in Mindanao, a Moro guerrilla peace negotiator said.

Officials who would run the autonomous government, however, should be elected directly by the people, according to Mohagher Iqbal, head of the negotiating panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

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“No less than his excellency, President Benigno Aquino III, agreed to the MILF proposal,” said Iqbal in an opening statement at the resumption of talks with government peace negotiators in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.

The Inquirer got hold of a copy of the opening statement yesterday.

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The MILF had proposed a set of laws to govern the operation of a new autonomous setup designed to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which the Aquino administration has described as a failure.

According to Iqbal, among the features of the set of laws proposed by MILF was the head of government would be a chief minister, similar to the heads of governments of Malaysia’s federal states.

The MILF has dropped a demand for independence and agreed to discuss broader autonomy.

The negotiations, Iqbal said, are moving forward although there are still disagreements on several issues, among them wealth-sharing, territory and power-sharing.

Members of the government peace panel expressed optimism over the progress of the talks.

“Now, we have moved at least a few feet,” said Marvic Leonen, chief government negotiator, in a statement released by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

“The day will come, I hope very, very soon that we will be able to sign a peace agreement,” said Leonen.

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During the recent talks, peace negotiators of both panels also extended by another year the operation of the joint law enforcement mechanism they created to pursue suspected criminals in rebel strongholds.

A joint statement issued Wednesday said the parties “renewed the mandate of the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (Ahjag) for a period of 12 months beginning February 2012.”

The extension of Ahjag’s life, “which would have expired this month,” came in the wake of the MILF’s announcement that it has arrested and turned over to authorities eight suspected criminals in Lanao del Sur.

The next round of talks is scheduled next month. Ryan Rosauro, with a report from Jeoffrey Maitem, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: MILF, Mindanao, Moro, Moro Islamic Liberation Front
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