Gov't, MILF end formal talks with 'milestones'

Posted at 01/26/2013 2:07 PM | Updated as of 01/26/2013 2:07 PM

MANILA – Several “milestones” were achieved by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels as it ended the 35th round of formal exploratory talks in Kuala Lumpur.

Government’s peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said after the talks, the parties have established a “clearer process” and a “more definitive estimate of our timeframes.”

These achievements bring both sides closer in completing the comprehensive agreement, said Coronel-Ferrer.

In a joint statement, the parties said several issues have been resolved and agreements have been reached, including the signing of the Terms of Reference for the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT).

The TPMT is the body that will review, assess, evaluate and monitor the implementation of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its Annexes.

Its members will be composed of representatives from local and international non-government organizations to be nominated by the government and the MILF.

"The parties also agreed to extend the respective tours of duty of the International Monitoring Team and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group for another year in recognition of their important roles in the peace process, without prejudice to adjustments that may be needed pursuant to developments in the crafting of the Annexes to the FAB (Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro)," the statement read.

Coronel-Ferrer added that the 4 Technical Working Groups (TWGs) have "arrived at good compromises on many of the remaining issues."

MILF peace panel chair Mohaqher Iqbal, meanwhile, said the both sides are "moving towards the right direction."

"Hopefully very soon we would be able to conclude our negotiations on the substantive issues…I think, for now, the light at the end of the tunnel is no longer flickering, it's very clear. And the continued commitment and decisiveness of all the parties, I think, God willing, we will be able to finish the process," he said.

Iqbal also appealed to both panels “to start due diligence from the moment we return to our respective places and be able to report to our respective principals.”

Malaysian facilitator Tengku Dato' Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohammed said both sides were able to achieve "a great step forward" in the exploratory talks, despite initially being pessimistic of the slow progress.