MILF panel chief blows top in latest round of talks

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03:12 AM December 19th, 2012

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By: Nikko Dizon, December 19th, 2012 03:12 AM

MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal

The chief negotiator of the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Mohagher Iqbal, reportedly lost his cool during the latest round of peace talks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last week, ostensibly because of a “seeming distrust” he felt from the government panel, according to a source close to the talks.

“The atmosphere during the talks last week was not that happy,” the source said.

However, it is nothing that cannot be resolved and the talks are still on track, according to the source.

“The annexes (to the framework agreement) will not likely be signed this year but that is not to say that the talks have bogged down,” the source said.

The apparent cause of Iqbal’s pique was the government panel’s insistence that the Transition Authority should be named the “Bangsamoro-led Transition Authority.”

The MILF wants it called the “MILF-led Transition Authority,” the source said.

Iqbal, who is almost always a “very gentle man” during the talks, became angry at the supposed lack of goodwill from the government panel, the source said.

This was the reason that the 34th round of talks, the second after the framework agreement was signed in October, ended in an impasse and without a joint statement being signed, the source said.

The framework agreement signed last October provided for the creation of a Bangsamoro Transition Authority under the Basic Law.

The framework agreement is considered the blueprint for the final peace agreement between the government and the MILF.

According to Chapter VII of the framework agreement, “all devolved authorities shall be vested in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority during the interim period.”

“The ministerial form and Cabinet system of government shall commence once the Bangsamoro Transition Authority is in place. The Bangsamoro Transition Authority may reorganize the bureaucracy into institutions of governance appropriate thereto,” the agreement said.

The source explained that insisting on the “Bangsamoro Transition Authority,” meant a recognition still of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which President Aquino himself has described as a “failed experiment.”

The source explained that this would allow the government to appoint whomever it wants to the Transition Authority, the source said.

“If you call it a ‘Bangsamoro Transition Authority,’ it would still mean including an ARMM-led local government. It appears that there would be no change at all with the present system, which was already considered broken,” the source said.

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