MILF, gov't say in agreement over draft Bangsamoro law

Peace panels from Philippines gov't and one-time rebel group say have developed shared understanding of ‘challenges and unsettled issues’.

MILF, gov't say in agreement over draft Bangsamoro law

World Bulletin / News Desk

Peace negotiating panels from the Philippines government and the country’s one-time largest rebel group announced Monday that they have agreed on substantial portions of a draft law on the Muslim south that, if ratified, will bring much needed wealth to the underdeveloped region after a decades-old conflict.

In a joint press statement issued to media, the panels of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said they have developed a shared understanding of the remaining "challenges and unsettled issues" in the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that they will bring back to their principals for further guidance.

The panels said that during their ten-day meeting – which ended Sunday after being organized to come up with a revised version of the law as the original reportedly had "contentious" issues - discussions had taken place in plenary, as well as in small groups focused on specific issues such as fiscal autonomy and administration of justice.

The panels reiterated their commitment to finishing a draft BBL by August 18 so President Benigno Aquino III can submit it to Congress as soon as possible.

They also expressed their appreciation to the International Contact Group, the Third Party Monitoring Team and Malaysian facilitator Tengku Dato' Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed for observing the talks.

The statement added: "There were also inputs provided by resource persons coming from the Bangsamoro Development Agency, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and the Ateneo de Manila School of Government on the matter of development planning and budget transfers to the Bangsamoro."

The MILF signed a peace agreement with the government on March 27 that brought to a close 17 years of negotiations and ended a decades-old armed conflict in the southern area of Mindanao - the second largest and southernmost major island in the Philippines - while granting Muslim areas greater political autonomy.

On August 5, government negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer had told reporters that both negotiating panels are bent on finishing the final draft within the week for its presentation to – and passage in - Congress this month.

On Saturday, MILF leaders urged journalists to exercise prudence in reporting on the ongoing peace process to prevent the misleading of the public.

Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chairman for political affairs, said, “Let’s avoid creating scenarios depicting that the efforts of both sides [the MILF and the government] to build lasting peace in Mindanao is doomed to fail.”

Under the new agreement, the MILF will get a 75 percent share of income derived from the exploitation of metallic minerals in the area -- reported to include gold and copper. It will also receive 75 percent of tax revenue, while any income derived from fossil fuels -- like petroleum, natural gas and coal -- will be split 50-50 with the central government in Manila.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Ağustos 2014, 10:17
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