MILF, PH agree on new entity to replace ARMM

Posted at 04/25/2012 2:58 PM | Updated as of 04/25/2012 2:58 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have agreed on "ten decision points on principles" that will guide succeeding negotiations on the substantive agenda for peace negotiations.

The decision points include an agreement that both parties "will work for the creation of a new autonomous political entity in place of the ARMM" and that "the new autonomous political entity shall have a ministerial form of government."

Speaking from Kuala Lumpur via Skype, GPH panel chairman Marvic Leonen told reporters in Malacañang that the territorial scope of the new entity would still have to be discussed. He added that this will also require a law in Congress.

The "GPH-MILF Decision Points on Principles as of April 2012" was signed at the conclusion of the 27th formal exploratory talks on April 24 held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was signed by Leonen and MILF panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal. Signing as witness was Malaysian facilitator Tengku Dato AB Ghafar Tengku Mohamed.

What is clear is that the new autonomous political entity being envisioned is not a separate state and is inseparable from the Republic of the Philippines, he said. He added the MILF has dropped its demand for independence.

He said it is inaccurate to call the new autonomous political entity as a Bangsamoro state.

The decision points also spoke of an agreement on "power-sharing" and "wealth-sharing" between the National Government and the new political entity. Leonen said that this is still under negotiations.

But the agreement also explicitly stated that both parties have agreed that certain powers "are reserved for the National Government," including defense and security, foreign policy, common market and global trade (with a note that the power to enter into economic agreements already allowed under RA 9054 shall be transferred to the new political entity), coinage and monetary policy, citizenship and naturalization, and postal service.

This is "without prejudice to other powers which the Parties may agree to reserve to the National Government in the course of the negotiation," the document stated.

Leonen stressed that the panel has conducted and would still conduct consultations with various stakeholders for their inputs, including local government units, legislators, law enforcers, civil society groups, among others.

Leonen said the panel is working hard to push for the signing of a final peace agreement at the soonest possible time. He added, however, they are not setting a timetable since it would be insincere to fix a deadline.