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ROAD MAP TO PEACE

Gov’t, MILF clear another hurdle

/ 03:13 AM March 01, 2013

OZAMIZ CITY, Philippines—The government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have finally come to an agreement on the first of the four annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro that would pave the way for a final peace accord and the establishment of an autonomous political entity by 2016.

During the three-day 36th exploratory meeting held in Kuala Lumpur that ended Wednesday, both parties firmed up the Annex on Transitional Arrangements and  Modalities (TAM).

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“This has been a very fruitful round, a very happy one, with the signing of the TAM. We actually had a draft as early as December and finally now we are signing it,” said government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer in a news release from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

Coronel-Ferrer said that as with other “contentious” issues that faced the panels and took a long time to tackle, “they’ve been solved, we found the language.”

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The TAM outlines a transition process made up of eight components. The process begins with the creation of a Transition Commission (TransCom)—which President Aquino has done—and ends with an Exit Document terminating the peace negotiations, “if and only when all agreements have been fully implemented.”

The other transition steps include the crafting and ratification of a Basic Law that will serve as the Bangsamoro Charter; proposals for amendments to entrench the peace agreement in the Constitution; operation of the MILF-led Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA); and periodic third-party monitoring of all agreements.

Once the Basic Law is ratified by voters in the areas concerned, the BTA will take over from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and “set up the institutions and mechanisms necessary to establish the Bangsamoro ministerial government.”

The question of who will lead the BTA was one of the kinks in the exploratory meetings.

The peace road map also lists the four bodies that will oversee the different phases of the transition to peace. These are the TransCom, BTA, Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) and Joint Normalization Committee (JNC).

The government and MILF panels approved the Terms of Reference of the TPMT in January. It will principally monitor and evaluate the implementation of all the agreements.

The JNC will coordinate with the national government and the MILF in maintaining law and order in the Bangsamoro until the group’s armed wing shall have been decommissioned in line with the demilitarization of the region.

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During the recent meeting, both parties also signed the Terms of Reference for the Independent Commission on Policing (ICP).

According to the joint statement, the ICP will submit recommendations to the peace panels on the appropriate form, structure and role of the Bangsamoro police force. The Framework Agreement seeks to establish a Bangsamoro police force that is civilian in character, professional and free of political control.

The final peace agreement should hopefully be finalized by April, Coronel-Ferrer told Agence France-Presse.

The panels have yet to complete the annexes on power-sharing, normalization and wealth-sharing. “By March, we hope to complete all the annexes and sign the comprehensive agreement,” Coronel-Ferrer said.—

With reports from Nikko Dizon and AFP

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TAGS: Government, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Peace deal, peace process, Philippines
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