MANILA STANDARD TODAY (02 September) -- Government negotiators and representatives of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front failed to agree on two remaining issues to complete the talks, but both sides expect to sign a peace agreement before the end of the year, Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles said on Sunday.


She said conclusion of the talks would lead to the creation of the Bangsamoro political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and it could bring lasting peace to the region.


“We aim to sign the Comprehensive Agreement this year,” Deles said.


The talks were snagged on two issues: power-sharing and demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of the Moro rebels who have been fighting government forces for decades.


President Aquino wanted a law passed on the creation of the Bangsamoro political entity by 2015 and a plebiscite will be held on the issue. Aquino said the new entity should be in place before the 2016 elections.


Deles said both sides agreed to resume the peace talks this month, including a 10-day marathon session, in an attempt to conclude talks on the remaining issues.


But MILF panel member Maulana Alonto said they would insist on upholding the asymetrical relations on power sharing, which means Bangsamoro will retain control over some functions under a ministerial form of government.


Deles said asymetry “fully embodies the constitutional mandate of regional autonomy, which establishes another level of government between the central and local governments, requiring a differentiated allocation of powers.”


The two sides signed a framework agreement last year stipulating that foreign affairs, national defense and external security, coinage and monetary policy, postage and citizenship and naturalization will be under the national government.


Under the wealth-sharing annex, the Bangsamoro entity will have an automatic annual appropriation of not less than P13 billion and the revenues that the entity will earn from additional taxes and income from natural resources will be deducted from its annual appropriation.


“We will have a scenario where dependency will be increasingly lessened as development takes place throughout the next decades. So, it is very significant in that sense,” said government chief negotiator Meriam Ferrer. -- Joyce Pangco Panares/Manila Standard Today