Friday, January 25, 2013

Opening Statement of GPH Panel Chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on the 35th GPH-MILF Formal Exploratory Talks

From the Website of OPPAP

Opening Statement of GPH Panel Chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on the 35th GPH-MILF Formal Exploratory Talks

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Posted on Monday, 21 January, 2013 - 13:25

Thank you very much. Asalamu alaikum.

His Excellency Tengku Dato’ Abd Ghafar Tengku Mohammed, Brother Mohagher Iqbal of the MILF and our brothers Bobby Alonto, Abdullah Camlian and Dato Antonio Kinoc. The MILF technical working groups and secretariat. Our companions in this journey, the members of the ICG.

Good morning to everyone.  (salutations)

In the past weeks since we adjourned the December round of talks, both the Government and the MILF panels met with a lot of people.In many of these meetings,again and again we had to explain why it is important to realize self-governance in the envisioned Bangsamoro; why this Bangsamoro is different from local government units and administrative regions in actual terms and as envisioned in the Constitution when it provided in Article X for autonomous regions; and why therefore they deserve to have more powers, more support and institutional features that are different from the rest of the country, such as a plural administration of justice system and a ministerial form of government. 

Again and again we had to explain that this asymmetrical relationship vis-à-vis other government units and the parity of esteem that we agreed to uphold between the Central and Bangsamoro governments do not make the Bangsamoro separate from the rest of the country.  The MILF, the Bangsamoro are Filipinos.

Again and again, we explained why these people and the new political entity that we are crafting deserve and have the right to be called Bangsamoro as the symbol of their identity.  

At the same time, before other constituents, we had to clarify that such a right is not an imposition; that there shall be freedom of choice as to identity; that basic rights, political representation and equal protection shall be guaranteed for all; that all indigenous peoples in the territorial jurisdiction of the future Bangsamoro, whether Moro on non-Moro,  shall have the right to their ancestral domains; that vested property rights and belief systems including those of settlers shall be recognized and respected.

Still there are those who remained skeptical. They ask: what makes you so sure that this time around it will be different? That not another armed group will arise asking for the same things. That governance will be better and not worse.

We tell them: we do not have all the answers, but we have to try. The alternative is to be left with the status quo that is unacceptable.

We say: this time, our aim is transformation and empowerment, not patronage. The new institutions shall be inclusive. There shall be transparency.
We have all learned from the lessons of the past.

In this round of talks we aim to settle the few remaining issues across the four annexes that together with the Framework Agreement will comprise the Comprehensive Agreement. 

These issues pertain to jurisdiction over natural resources; transportation and communication; the extent of territorial waters; taxing powers; timetables for decommissioning and demilitarization; policing structures; the transition authority, among others.

Expect that we will get worked up in the minutest details. Expect that we will once again tangle with words and ruffle emotions.

But our goals have remained the same: (1) To establish a Bangsamoro government that will enjoy the blessings of meaningful political and fiscal autonomy.

(2) To get to this end through a peaceful transition that will enable the MILF to test and prove its brand of leadership, jumpstart the socio-economic development in the communities, and forever still the guns in the erstwhile conflict-affected region.
(3) To achieve healing, reconstruction and the human security of the peoples, groups and sectors in the region.

To get any farther toward these goals, we first have to produce a comprehensive agreement that will measure up to the core needs of the Bangsamoro advocates, on the one hand,and at the same time stand the scrutiny of the skeptics and all those who will co-exist with each other under the Bangsamoro government.

The government negotiating team and the bureaucracy behind us has no other interest than to see this through. We are not politicians. Our task is to assist the President realize his vision of peace and progress for Mindanao where the MILF is a trustworthy partner.
We are not tourists in this journey. Besides this journey is not for the fainthearted. After the annexes, the ride will even be rougher. But, insha Allah, we will get going.

Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat.


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