June 11, 2012 News: International non-government organizations (INGO) of the International Contact Group (ICG) met with members of the MILF Central Committee at Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on June 8, 2012.
It was a long exchange of views on the current status of the GPH-MILF peace negotiation between non-state members of the ICG and the MILF leaders led by Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar.
It was the MILF through its peace panel which requested for this meeting that lasted for more than three hours. It started at 2:00 pm and lasted up to past 5:00pm.
This was the first time ICG members had a face-to-face meeting with the leadership of the MILF.
States members of the ICG opted not to join the trip to Darapanan, the administrative base of the MILF, for reason not provided to Luwaran.
Four INGOs namely The Asia Foundation (TAF), Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (HDC), Muhammadiyah, and Conciliation Resources (CR) sent their representatives namely David Gorman (HDC), Emma Leslie and Kristian Herbolzheimer (CR), Dr. Marcus Sudibyo (Muhammadiyah), and Dr. Steven Rood (TAF).
Sudibyo came all the way from Jakarta and then to Manila and finally to Cotabato City for the meeting.
Present on the side of the MILF were Chairman Murad, Ghazali, Iqbal, Atty. Michael Mastura, and some five senior members of the 70-man MILF Central Committee.
Muhammad Ameen, chairperson of the MILF Secretariat, described the meeting as very frank and exhaustive, with both sides cautious in not delving into the confidential zone of the current peace negotiation.
“They are really experts in conflict resolution,” he described the ICG members, even as he admitted that their participation in the GPH-MILF peace talks is really a big plus factor.
David Gorman and Dr. Steven Rood provided much of the discussion on the part of the ICG, after Murad briefed the visitors about the stance of the MILF vis-à-vis the current peace talks.
Kristian, Emma, and Sudibyo also contributed a lot to the fireworks that made the discussion very exciting and educational, especially the former, who hails from Catalan in Spain.