Malaysia remains facilitator in GRP-MILF talks

Malaysia remains the third party facilitator at the resumption of peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) after the Holy Feast of Ramadan on Sept. 9.

In a news briefing in Malacanang, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the stalled peace talks with the MILF will definitely resume after the Ramadan as announced by President Benigno S. Aquino III in his State of the Nation Address last July.

“What we have right now and what we have been informed is that Malaysia is still the third party negotiator,” Lacierda said.

Concerned government officials he said, have been given a briefing on the peace process last week.

The President, according to him, has expressed determination to put an end to the decades-old conflict in southern Philippines and finally achieve a long-lasting peace for Muslim-Filipinos.

Peace talks between the Philippine Government and the MILF were stalled since August 2008 following the aborted signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD). (PCOO/PIA)

Peace talks with Moro rebels to resume after Ramadan – Palace

PEACE negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will resume after Islam’s holy month of Ramadan.

In a news briefing, Presidential Spokesman Atty. Edwin Lacierda said President Benigno S. Aquino III is determined to pursue his programs for Mindanao, the most important of which is to end the decade-long hostilities in Southern Philippines.

Lacierda said the appointment of UP College of Law dean Marvic Leonen as chief negotiator in the peace talks with the secessionist rebels is a clear testament of the Aquino administration’s commitment to pursue the consultative peace process.

He said Leonen, together with Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process Secretary Teresita “Ging” Deles, will review past agreements and records of talks and documents entered by the previous administration with the MILF peace panel.

Covered by the review is the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) with the MILF.

Lacierda also echoed the President’s statement that the present government is committed to a consultative peace process by appointing credible personalities that truly understand the country’s history, diverse cultures and aspirations to head the government peace panel. (PIA-Bohol)

Catholic, Muslim educators to talk peace

Catholic and Muslim educators will launch a series of discussions on the peace problem in Mindanao.

Jesuit-run Ateneo University School of Government and the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies, with the support of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), are hosting the talks featuring experts on the issue.

Ateneo School of Government Dean Tony La Vina said the discussions are taking place “outside the peace process” between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace negotiators.

In a report of the Union of Catholic Asian News, he expressed hope that some sessions could tackle issues raised during formal negotiations.

IBS is a non-stock, non-profit private institution begun in 2001 to undertake independent and collaborative research on Bangsamoro society, history, education, culture, politics, economic, and contemporary affairs.

IBS Executive Director Abhoud Syed Lingga said the Mindanao conflict stems from the struggle of the Bangsamoro people against “domination” by the Philippine state.

Lingga said peace in Mindanao can be achieved primarily through formal peace negotiations at the national level.

The new administration of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is preparing to resume peace talks that broke down in August 2008. (PIA-Bohol)

UP Law dean to head GRP panel in talks with MILF

UP College of Law dean Marvic Leonen will be the government’s chief negotiator in the resumption of peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Malacanang announced Thursday.

President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, who is currently in Tuguegarao City to visit the wake of soldiers killed in action, said in a statement that he is committed to a consultative peace process so he has appointed Leonen — who he said understands the country’s history, different cultures, and aspirations — to head the government panel that will negotiate with the secessionist group.

Leonen, a constitutional expert who specializes in land issues, has taken part in convening a consortium of universities, many of which were from Mindanao, to examine the next phase of the peace process under the new administration.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said Leonen has “earned the respect of the peoples in Mindanao” because of his efforts to engage the academe and marginalized sectors and communities in resolving issues.

Leonen has worked on issues involving agrarian reform, access to justice, ancestral domain, health, environment, and international economic law. He said he will remain the dean of the UP College of Law despite his new role as the government’s chief negotiator with the MILF so UP can act as “a public service university.” (PIA-Bohol)

New peace panel to be set up within July

THE administration is expected to complete its new peace panel that will negotiate with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) within the month, said presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Q. Deles.

She declined to identify the panel members since the process of selecting the candidates is ongoing.

The government, she said, would immediately communicate with the Malaysian peace process facilitator to schedule the first round of talks.

Before exiting, the Arroyo administration entered into a “continuing agreement” with the MILF through a six-point declaration that noted key issues such as the aspiration of Bangsamoro (Muslim nation) for self-rule, ancestral domain and political settlement.

Ms. Deles said the administration is reviewing agreements and the strategies of the past government in the talks.

In a statement, she said the administration is adopting a four-point strategy on solving insurgency: delivery of basic services, particularly education and health; economic reconstruction and sustainable development in Mindanao; strengthening of security sector reform, particularly in disbanding private armies; and good governance.

Ms. Deles said these strategies will also advance the peace process in the entire country. (PIA-Bohol)