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Moro Muslims, Philippines seek framework agreement in talks

Source : Agencies | 06 Sept 2012

Moro Muslims and Philippines Government are moving to create a “framework agreement” within the four-day exploratory talks that kicked off in Kuala Lumpur Wednesday, reported on inquirer news.

According to presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Quinto-Deles, the framework agreement will expectedly include a roadmap for replacing the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with the New Autonomous Political Entity (NAPE), which will have far greater political and economic self-governance powers.

Deles explained that the concept of a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) has long been abandoned in the negotiations because it was associated with the failed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) that was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in a move that triggered new clashes at that time.

The creation of the NAPE was agreed on by the parties last April. It was enumerated as one of the 10 Decision Points to guide the crafting of a comprehensive peace formula to end over four decades of issue in Mindanao.

The NAPE’s core territory will be the current ARMM. Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has also proposed that six predominantly Moro-populated towns in Lanao del Norte and some 735 barangay (villages) contiguous to the region be included, subject to a plebiscite.

The six Lanao del Norte towns voted to be included in the ARMM during the 1989 plebiscite but the reckoning of majority was at the provincial level.

But Deles revealed that “the two parties have not yet agreed on the mode and scope of jurisdiction for the autonomous entity.”

"Transition period shortened"

Deles said the framework agreement must also spell out the immediate transitional measures.

In an earlier interview, chief MILF negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said the legal instruments being considered to be employed to effect a transition ranged from an executive order by the president to a Congressional act.

From its original proposal of seven years, the MILF has agreed to trim down the period of transition to three years so that the major portions of an eventual political settlement will be implemented within the term of President Benigno Aquino.

This adjustment has also led to a new strategy adopted by the parties of concluding a series of agreements.

Deles said the framework agreement would be the first in the series of pacts the government and the MILF would sign in the process of establishing and empowering a Moro self-governance entity in Mindanao.

This means the peace formula will no longer be contained only in one document.

Deles explained that the framework agreement would contain “an elaboration of the 10 Decisions Points” as well as “an enumeration of principles” that would guide the crafting of successive agreements.

She clarified that negotiations for all these agreements must be completed also within the term of President Aquino.

“We want the major commitments that will have bearing on building peace in Mindanao implemented within this administration,” she pointed out.

“But of course the task of building lasting peace in Mindanao goes beyond this administration,” Deles stressed.

Within the agreed three-year transition phase, other substantive measures like the enactment of a Bangsamoro Basic Law and normalization would be worked out, Deles further said.

Under the MILF proposal, the basic law will govern the operation of the NAPE just like the charter or organic act of the ARMM.