Gov’t, MILF look to seal peace deal | Inquirer News

Gov’t, MILF look to seal peace deal

By: - Reporter / @NikkoDizonINQ
/ 02:56 PM January 25, 2014

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KUALA LUMPUR—The Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has led a secessionist movement for decades, could finally seal a peace agreement on Saturday and silence the guns in Central Mindanao.

As of posting time, both the government and the MILF panels are finalizing the normalization annex, the last of the four documents of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB). The FAB, signed by both parties in October 2012, is the blueprint for the final peace deal.

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The peace agreement with the MILF is one of the cornerstones of the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.

“What’s happening inside right now is they are able to agree on the remaining contentious, sensitive points in the annex. I would assume they are now reviewing and editing the document, the formatting and all that,” Yasmin Busran-Lao, government panel member, told reporters.

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The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) will be signed in Manila soon after the normalization annex is completed on Saturday.

Busran-Lao said the decommissioning, or putting beyond use, of the firearms of the MILF remained to be the “most sensitive component” of the normalization annex.

Sources told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that among the contentious issues was the percentage of firearms that the MILF would decommission in four tranches before the end of President Benigno Aquino III’s term in 2016.

“There has to be a balance between goodwill and security,” one of the sources explained.

The government will have to redeploy its troops out of what would be the Bangsamoro political entity, which will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), in exchange for the MILF’s decommissioning of its firearms.

Another source privy to the talks told the Inquirer that the MILF wanted to ensure that the Bangsamoro would be free from private armed groups, terrorists, and other threat groups when it decommissions its firearms.

“It’s a very tall order. It cannot be done in one sweeping move. Both sides are really pressured. The MILF wants to decommission provided that there would be a level playing field… because they are the ones who would be left in the area once the government redeploys its troops,” the source said.

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On Friday, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said that the MILF would not surrender its firearms to the government.

He explained that a third party decommissioning team would be the one responsible for the decommissioned firearms.

“In exchange for that there would be redeployment of troops. There would be disbandment of private armies. There has to be a police for the Bangsamoro to be organized and there has to be economic intervention on the ground and there has to be transitional justice to be implemented. So these are parallel mechanisms that move forward alongside each other,” Iqbal said.

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TAGS: Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, cab, Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), Government, MILF, Peace Talks, Politics
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