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 No breakthrough but no breakdown either in GPH, MILF talks

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PostSubject: No breakthrough but no breakdown either in GPH, MILF talks   Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:26 pm

KUALA LUMPUR (MindaNews/30 May) – Neither breakthrough nor breakdown.
There was no breakthrough as the three-day talks between the Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels ended at 4 p.m. on Wednesday but there was no breakdown either even as both panels opted not to issue a Joint Statement on what transpired.
No date has been set for the next meeting, too, but government peace panel chair Marvic Leonen told MindaNews the Malaysian facilitator, Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed, will shuttle between the panels in Manila and Maguindanao
MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal said the decision not to issue a Joint Statement was mutually agreed upon.
The Joint Statement, usually less than ten paragraphs and issued at the end of the talks, describes the progress of the negotiations, though in carefully worded language, announces the month when the parties will meet again and expresses their appreciation to President President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak and members of the International Contact Group composed of Japan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Conciliation Resources, Muhammadiyah, and The Asia Foundation.
The last time the two panels had no Joint Statement was during the August 22-24 talks last year when the supposed three-day talks adjourned abruptly on the second day after the MILF peace panel rejected the government’s proposed “three for one” formula and Leonen shot back with “we reject your rejection.”
Members of both panels did not appear bothered that no Joint Statement was issued although both parties acknowledge some progress was made in the three-day talks that followed last month’s breakthrough: the April 24 signing of the “GPH-MILF Decision Points on Principles as of April 2012.”
On Monday, the two panels held an executive session to discuss the roadmap, including transition, which Iqbal had earlier expected to be “the most ticklish.”
The panels agreed to refer the issue to their respective principals.
On Tuesday, the talks centered on power sharing and for the first time in the history of the GPH-MILF peace negotiations, governors of the member-provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) sat as observer in the talks held at the State Room of the Palace of the Golden Horses hotel.
The first to sit as observer was Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong, Jr., at 10:40 a.m. About an hour later, Adiong stepped out and Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu, who was returning to Manila the next day, took over his observer’s seat until they broke for lunch at 1 p.m.
Both Adiong and Mangudadatu attended the session on power-sharing.
Tuesday’s lunch break was extended supposedly until 3 p.m. to allow the panels to watch the Senate verdict on Chief Justice Renato Corona via live streaming at the State Room, using the same LCD screen where Powerpoint presentations by both government and MILF panels were projected. But the afternoon session was virtually suspended when Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile announced there would be no time limit for senators in explaining their votes.
The panels convened again at 6:05 p.m, after Enrile, the last to render his verdict, finished explaining his vote.
While government peace panel members watched the Senate voting, MILF members held two meetings in one of the holding rooms of the State Room – with Ali Demirci, representative of the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and with the five governors of the ARMM: Adiong, Mangudadatu, Basilan’s Jum Akbar, Sulu’s Abdusakur Tan and Tawi-tawi’s Sadikul Sahali.
On Wednesday, Sahali and Akbar sat as observers in the wealth-sharing presentation of the MILF. They were later replaced by Tan and Adiong.
The governors left after lunch when the panels began discussions on
“normalization,” a term reportedly preferred by the MILF over the usual DDR (disarmament, demobilization and reintegration).
The MILF peace panel invited the GPH peace panel and the ARMM governors to the inauguration next week of the two-story Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute building in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao.
Leonen said they would attend the inauguration. Members of the ICG are also attending. Sahali said he would try to attend but acknowledged “Tawi-tawi to Simuay is quite far.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)
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