13 August 2016

Mindanao peace talks resume in Kuala Lumpur
A day after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said he would meet Moro National Liberation Front founder Nur Misuari early next year, talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front resumed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Peace negotiators convened their meeting to launch the “Implementing Phase of the Mindanao Peace Agreements between the GPH and MILF” on Saturday.

At the talks in the Malaysian capital are Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Jesus Dureza, Peace Facilitator YM Tenku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed, MILF Chairman Alhaj Murad Ebrahim and Malaysian Deputy Minister of Defence Y.B Dato’ Sri Mohd Johari Bin Baharum.

Dureza said, in a news release of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process posted on August 11, the composition of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC)—the body tasked to draft a Bangsamoro enabling law—is on the agenda of their meeting.

The OPAPP Secretary said an idea that could be tackled is the expansion of the BTC composition to include MNLF leaders, officials of the ARMM, and other sectors in Mindanao.

“The current setup of the BTC is composed of eight representatives from the MILF and seven appointees of the government,” the OPAPP said in their August 11 news release.

President Dutere said on Friday in Jolo, Sulu province he would likely meet Misuari “after the level of the panels is completed and everything had been laid down.”

”So, ang trabaho ko, when I became President was really to seek peace not war. At inumpisahan ko na kaagad iyong peace talks, pati iyong mga tao dito, pati kay Nur, kilala kami matagal na. I’ve been telling him, “Nur, can we just talk about, tapos maghanap tayo ng paraan kung papano,” Duterte said.

The President also said he had told Dureza “to talk to Nur at kung maari sabi ko, isabay ko na lang, kasi magastos iyong isa’t-isa. Puwede naman iyang in the discussion, half of the discussion with Nur and half to discussion would be with the MILF.”

Last August 9, Dureza said the KL meeting would zero-in on the mechanism that will determine how the new enabling law will be crafted and key provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that can already be implemented.

“If everything goes well, and it is acceptable in their convergence, that can be very well be the mechanism to start of the groups to already come together and craft of the enabling law,” Dureza said on August 9 in a press briefing before heading to Kuala Lumpur.

With Dureza in the Malaysian capital are the chair of the implementing panel Irene Santiago, and OPAPP Undersecretaries Diosita Andot and Nabil Tan, and OPAPP Assistant Secretaries Dickson Hermoso and Rolando Asuncion. -30- (ELR)