June 9, 2012 News: Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Central Committee, and His Excellency Ambassador Toshinao Urabe and his high delegation from Japan Embassy in Manila met at Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao last June 7, 2012.
Chairman Murad and Ambassador Urabe held the meeting immediately after the culmination of the inauguration ceremony for the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute’s (BLMI) Human Resources Development Center at Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.
The two leaders tackled the prevailing status of the peace negotiation between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF being facilitated by the Government of Malaysia in an atmosphere of utmost cordiality and candidness.
Murad conveyed that gratitude and appreciation of the MILF and the Bangsamoro people for the unfaltering support and assistance of Japan to the GPH – MILF Peace Process.
He said the MILF is very sincere and committed to pushing forward the GPH – MILF peace process that principally aims of forging a negotiated political settlement of the Bangsamoro Question for Right to Self-Determination (RSD) by way of entrenching asymmetrical relationships between the Philippine State and the Bangsamoro government.
That aim of the negotiation finds strong resonance with the recent agreement of both the government and MILF that the status quo is not acceptable and that a new autonomous political entity must be emplaced, the Chairman said.
He added that the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) should not be an obstacle in establishing the new political entity.
Urabe lauded the MILF for its commitment and perseverance to the peace negotiations, even as he said Japan is keeping its strong support to this GPH and MILF overture.
The GPH – MILF peace negotiations have been going on for more than 14 years. The exploratory talks between the two parties in Malaysia last April 2102 resulted to the signing of the GPH - MILF 10 – Decision Points of Principles.
Chairman Murad acknowledged the 10-Decision Points of Principles as the first and major breakthrough signed document between the two parties under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.
“This document serves as the guide in the discussion over the negotiating table on the details of the peace accord between the two parties,” the Chairman said.
In the last exploratory talks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in May 2012, the government and MILF Peace Negotiators agreed to refer to respective principles in Malacanang Palace and Camp Darapanan some crucial issues pertaining to wealth-sharing, power-sharing, normalization process, constitutionality and road map, and tackled on the issues.
The negotiators from the two sides had not agreed on the scheduled date for the resumption of the talks in Malaysia.
Murad pointed out that the more ticklish issues being confronted is on the road map that resides on the transitional mechanism and authority.
“Both sides have to agree on the road map so that we can move forward,” he said.
But he expressed optimism that the ongoing shuttle diplomacy being undertaken by the Malaysian Facilitator and the efforts of the international Contact Group (ICG) for the GPH – MILF Peace Talks will result to a breakthrough on the road map.
Both the Malaysian Facilitator and the ICG had met with the top leadership of the MILF in Camp Darapanan and in Malacanang Palace the past days in order to find a common ground for the immediate resumption of the talks.
Murad however assured Ambassador Urabe of the commitment of the MILF to find a way forward for the negotiation.
But he was forthright in saying the MILF will never sign an agreement that will not resolved the root cause of the problem which is political.
“We have spent our life in the quest for finding and mustering the solution to the root cause of the problem. We have not spent the best times of lives only to get high positions with the government,” he said.
Japan is also a strong member-state of the ICG and the International Monitoring Team (IMT).
Urabe for his part said “it’s our earnest to see peace in Mindanao and time as well as opportunity is not unlimited.”
He also shared the optimism of Chairman Murad that the commitment of both parties to the peace process and the twin efforts of the Malaysian Facilitator and the ICG will result to a breakthrough.