Pre-Sona meeting for Aquino, Murad
MANILA, Philippines—A third meeting between President Benigno Aquino III and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Murad Ebrahim is likely to take place before the Chief Executive addresses a joint session of Congress on July 28, the Inquirer has learned.
Mr. Aquino and Murad need to thresh out the issues hounding the draft Bangsamoro basic law, which would establish a new autonomous Muslim region in Mindanao, as agreed upon by the government and the MILF.
Saving peace deal
A reliable source privy to the talks told the Inquirer yesterday that the meeting between the President and the MILF head appeared necessary to save the peace agreement after
Mr. Aquino’s legal team allegedly watered down the draft law prepared by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.
MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal heads the Transition Commission.
It was not clear where the third meeting between Mr. Aquino and Murad would take place.
President Aquino and Murad first met in Tokyo, Japan, in August 2011 to revive peace talks between the government and the MILF, which had waged a decades-long war in Mindaano, fighting for a separate state.
The meeting ultimately opened the peace negotiations where the MILF agreed to having a Bangsamoro autonomous region.
A peace agreement between the government and the MILF was signed in March this year.
But the the alleged dilution of the draft law prompted another meeting between the President and Murad in Hiroshima, Japan, last month.
The Manila leg of the five-day “workshop” being done by government and MILF negotiators had a rough start on Friday, the source said.
The workshop appeared to be a review of the annexes on power, wealth sharing, normalization, and transitional modalities that made up the peace agreement against the long list of comments of the President’s legal team on the draft law.
Just like the “workshop” held in Kuala Lumpur a week ago, the Manila workshop started off with some tense moments between the two panels, the source said.
Don’t give up
But Murad had told Iqbal and the rest of the MILF panel not to give up on the efforts to save the draft law.
“Chairman Murad told the MILF panel to stay put, keep engaged and temper their emotions,” the source said.
Moreover, Murad appeared to understand that President Aquino was focused on handling the fallout after the Supreme Court declared his economic stimulus plan, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), unconstitutional.
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