08 July (Malaya) -- WEALTH sharing is up as government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front negotiators resume formal peace talks today in Kuala Lumpur.
MILF vice chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar said the MILF peace panel will present its position on the government’s proposed revisions in the wealth-sharing annex to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
The two panels have initialed the annex but government wanted changes, much to the frustration of the MILF leadership and ground commanders.
“It is resuming tomorrow,” Jaafar said. “We have adopted some positions but we cannot discuss those positions in public. This is about the wealth-sharing annex.”
Wealth-sharing is one of the three remaining issues to be settled under the framework agreement that was signed by government and MILF negotiators in October last year.
Jaafar said the guidance of the MILF leadership to its peace panel is to “present the position of the Central Committee, (and) discuss the position of the MILF.”
“We are observing very carefully, we are monitoring the progress of the negotiations,” he added.
Jaafar earlier accused the government of deliberately delaying the signing of a final peace agreement by reneging on its commitment to return to the negotiating table immediately after the May elections.
He has also said the MILF would most likely reject the government’s proposed changes to the already initialed wealth-sharing agreement. He said the MILF Central Committee met and came up with a position on the issue about two weeks ago but he did not reveal what it was.
Deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte asked the public to wait for the outcome of the peace talks instead of speculating on it.
Valte, in an interview over Radyo ng Bayan, reiterated that government is being careful about crafting the agreement because it does not want a repeat of the botched Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) which was nullified by the Supreme Court.
“We do not want the framework agreement to go the way of the MOA-AD. We have always been very forthright that any agreement or any annex that will be agreed upon by the parties should stand or should pass legal muster or it should stand legal scrutiny,” she said.
Government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer has described the proposed annex on wealth-sharing as better than the fiscal arrangement in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as it provides more taxing powers and a more defined sharing of government resources.
Ferrer over the weekend said both panels are conscious about the need to finish the annex on wealth sharing soonest, and that some compromises may be needed to come up with a final annex that would be acceptable to both panels.
The annex on wealth-sharing is one of the three remaining annexes that are expected to be completed by the GPH and the MILF soon. The other two annexes are on power sharing and normalization.
Together with the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities that was signed in February, the three annexes will comprise the comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro. – Victor Reyes with Jocelyn Montemayor/malaya.com.ph