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GPH, MILF chief negotiators welcome support of CSOs

Posted on 26 August 2014 by Danny

DAVAO CITY – The chief negotiators of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) jointly expressed their appreciation of the support of various civil society groups in Mindanao on Monday as the panels continue their work in finalizing a mutually-acceptable draft Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Leaders of the Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW), the largest network of peace advocates in Mindanao, met the peace panels of the government and the MILF to renew their steadfast commitment to the Mindanao peace process.
“We extend our goodwill to the members of the peace panels as they roll up their sleeves from August 1 to 10 to come up with a mutually acceptable text of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. We trust in the deep and strong commitment of these men and women for achieving peace in Mindanao, and we expect that (commitment) to drive their much-needed creativity, patience and resolve to muster the decisive consensus in this crucial exercise,” the group said in a statement, which they formally turned-over to the negotiators on Monday, the fourth day of the scheduled ten-day GPH-MILF workshop on the draft BBL which started on August 1 in Davao City.
Mohagher Iqbal, MILF’s chief negotiator and head of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), said there is no other way but to pursue the path to peace in Mindanao. “For the MILF we are not thinking of any other option. The only option is peace so that’s why we are pouring everything here so that peace would be possible. Thank you very much,” he told the leaders of the MPW.
For her part, government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said that the untiring support of the civil society groups is vital for the smooth implementation of the peace agreement. “Thank you again sa inyo who will provide us with all the other support that we need. Moral support, financial support at saka kung anu-ano pang mga ideya din na pwede niyong imungkahi,” she said.
According to Coronel-Ferrer, the support of the civil society groups bolstered the panels’ determination to finish their task.
“Napakahalagang mensahe iyon na kung kailangan man natin mag roll up ng sleeves… at saka magpawis para nga matuloy yung ating proseso. Masyado nang marami na tayong inalay para maka-abot sa puntong ito. Ang solusyon ay hindi ang bumalik kung saan tayo nag-umpisa kung hindi tapusin kung ano yung inumpisahan natin,” she said.
Public support
The MPW said the current “kinks” in the drafting of the Basic Law warrant not doomsayers but the public’s support to the entire process.
“Even then, we note(d) the present efforts by the peace panels and their principals in addressing the issues raised about the Basic Law drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission. This gives us confidence that the parties are still heavily invested in the peace process,” the group said.
The MPW are offering prayers for the negotiators and their principals to successfully reach the BBL. “We pray for their continued personal strength and fortitude as they carry on a task that is made formidable by its historic significance and the weight of expectations from stakeholders within the country and those in the international community,” the group said.
“We also pray that President Benigno Aquino III and MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim maintain their unwavering stance for this peace process, and continue to keep and nurture the partnership they have built in pursuit of a just resolution of the Moro conflict,” they added.
The members of the MPW gathered in Davao City last Friday to discuss ways and find common solutions to ensure the smooth implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
The BBL, which will translate the CAB into a legal language, will entrench the Bangsamoro region upon its enactment into law by Congress and subsequent ratification by the people in the envisioned core territory. The CAB is the result of the 17 years of negotiations between the government and the MILF. It was signed last March 27.
Commissioners of the BTC, who were tasked to draft the BBL, submitted the draft bill to the Office of the President (OP) for legal review on April 22. Subsequently, the BTC issued a resolution “elevating to the Panels for clarification and resolution the outstanding issues on the draft Basic Law.”
The peace panels have met several times since last month to harmonize the BTC’s initial draft and the comments made by the Office of the President before the President will submit it to Congress for passage.
In his recent State of the Nation Address, President Benigno Aquino III committed to push for a reasonable, just and acceptable BBL.

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