Updates Per Peace Table

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Third party monitors for GPH-MILF peace talks convene for the first time

Gov’t panel chair hopes for “fruitful meeting” in 38th formal talks

 
Kuala Lumpur – The Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT), which is mandated to review, assess, evaluate, and monitor the implementation of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its annexes, convened for the first time during the 38th GPH-MILF formal exploratory talks in this Malaysian capital.
 
Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said that “once convened, they are one body, no longer GPH nominees nor MILF nominees, but objective and constructive interlocutors of the process both in their individual and collective capacities.” 
 
As stated in its Terms of Reference, signed in January 2013 by the two parties, the TPMT will have an eminent person as chair, two persons coming from international non-government organizations, and another two members from local NGOs. 

The TPMT is composed of Alistair MacDonald, former European Union ambassador to the Philippines, who joins in his personal capacity and serves as chair; Steven Rood, country representative of The Asia Foundation in the Philippines; Karen Tañada of Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute and Mindanao Solidarity Network, and Zainnudin Malang of Mindanao Human Rights Action Center. Turkey-based international NGO iHH Insani Yardim Vakfi or The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedom and Humanitarian Relief Vice President Omer Kesmen will complete the five-man TPMT.

MacDonald headed the European Union delegation in the Philippines from 2007 to 2011. Rood, on the other hand, was a member of the International Contact Group, which has been tasked to exert the necessary leverage and assistance to sustain the trust and confidence between the two parties on the negotiating table. 

Tañada, a long-time peace,human rights and gender advocate, is also the Southeast Asian coordinator of “Peace Women Across the Globe.” Malang is a lawyer and human rights activist based in Cotabato City. Kesmen helps realize his organization’s mission to bring humanitarian assistance to civilians affected by conflict.

With both parties now on the last stretch of the negotiations, Coronel-Ferrer stressed the huge task that is laid before them.

“We have a big responsibility, all of us in this room today, to meet the expectations of so many people who want this process to succeed,” she stated. “With the presence of the TPMT, we have expanded the circle of responsibility.”
 
The GPH and MILF panels hope to finish the wealth-sharing annex in this round of formal talks. Also in the agenda are discussions on the power-sharing and normalization annexes.

These annexes, together with the FAB signed by the parties in October 2012, will comprise the GPH-MILF comprehensive agreement. The annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities has already been completed in February.

“Fruitful meeting”

“With gratitude we welcomed the biddings of good luck and good will. And we too have said our own prayers, our own whispered hopes for a most fruitful meeting,” said Coronel-Ferrer.
 
The panel chair also shared that Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles have asked prayer warriors to include the peace talks in their intentions. “She has sent out the text message asking to: Please pray for patience, insight and understanding for the parties to find common ground in mind and heart and bring the good news for the Filipino people during the first week of Ramadan.”
 
Coronel-Ferrer said that the “Annexes that will come out of this process will not be perfect – not perfect from where the MILF, the government, nor any of the other stakeholders, self-ascribed as Bangsamoro or not, are coming from.”
 
“But like the Framework Agreement which drew up the master plan, the Annexes will design the rooms with the basic rudiments for dignified and harmonious governance. These rooms shall be livable. Under good hands, they will nurture leaders who will continue to strengthen the foundations, dream new dreams, and change the lives of the whole neighborhood,” she stated.
 
“Most critical stage”
 
MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said that both parties “are still treading the most critical stage of the peace journey.”
 
“As a negotiator for more than 10 years, I have learned a lot of hard lessons. My experience tells me that there are no easy parts of any real life negotiations. For this reason, I know that the road ahead of the current peace talks is still full of humps and bumps, but this is no reason to cause the failure of these talks.  Sincere and committed partners in peace process will always find creative formula to get through any differences,” he stated.
 
Iqbal also expressed hopes to possibly “sign anything we can settle, hopefully the annex on wealth-sharing.” #