Timeline: GPH and MILF six months after signing of Framework Agreement

By | April 15, 2013

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/14 April) – What have the government (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels accomplished six months after the October 15, 2012 signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB)?

Five documents in five rounds of talks from November to April but only one of four annexes to the FAB was finished.

Here’s a timeline prepared by MindaNews.

November 2012
Nov. 12-18 

First round of talks on the four Annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) after the latter’s signing in Malacanan Palace on October 15.


Scheduled for seven days, the talks ended on the 17th instead of the 18th  to allow the peace panels of the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to consult their respective principals on the still unresolved issues and prepare for “the next and hopefully, last round” a few weeks later.

Joint Statement says technical working groups (TWGs) on Wealth-sharing and Power-sharing, which had been meeting every month since August “made substantial progress in the crafting of the Annexes  while the TWG on Normalization, which convened for the first time in November,  “agreed on an outline of issues  and had initial positive exchanges on these matters.”

The panels “remain committed to complete the annexes before the end of the year.”

Would they finish the annexes before yearend?

GPH peace panel chair Marvic Leonen: “We will finish”

MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal: “Yes, matatapos”

In both the power- and wealth-sharing TWGs, the major issue is how much more powers would be granted to the Bangsamoro than what has been granted to the ARMM under Republic Act 9054.

“It will be more than 9054… it cannot be less,”  Leonen told MindaNews. He defined “more” as “more that will be satisfactory to the MILF.”

Ma. Lourdes Lim,  NEDA regional director and chair of the GPH-TWG on wealth-sharing told MindaNews that the joint TWG has “put the details to the provisions on wealth sharing in the FAB and we came up with substantive inputs for the Transition Commission to consider but this will have to go to the panels. We are just recommendatory.”

Lim said the powers proposed for the Bangsamoro would be more than what RA 9054 provides. “9054 is the minimum. That is our reference point. That’s the baseline,” she said.

National Security Council Undersecretary Zenonida Brosas, chair of the GPH-TWG on Normalization said she is confident they can finish their task because “pareho kami ng frame of mind” (we have the same frame of mind), referring to their MILF-TWG counterparts.

Nov. 21
GPH peace panel chair Mario Victor (Marvic) F. Leonen is appointed  by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

MILF peace panel chair Iqbal welcomes Leonen’s appointment:  “We welcome the appointment! My sincerest congratulations! He deserves it.”

Leonen, who turned 50  in December, was Dean of the University of the Philippines’ College of Law when he was named GPH peace panel chair on July 15, 2010, just two weeks after President Aquino’s oath-taking.  Appointed at 47, he was the youngest GPH peace panel chair in the 38-year history of the peace negotiations with the Moro liberation fronts.

December 2012
Dec. 7
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles announces the appointment of University of the Philippines Politicial Science Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, senior GPH peace panel member, as new chair of the peace panel vice Marvic Leonen who was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on November 21.

“Professor Ferrer’s appointment signifies continuity and harmony in the peace talks, which is crucial towards the completion of the comprehensive agreement this December,” Deles said.

Ferrer, the first woman chair of the GPH peace panel in the peace process that began in 1997, took her oath of office before Deles on the same day.

Deles described Ferrer as a “staunch advocate of human rights and an expert in conflict resolution and justice.”

Ferrer was director of the Programme on Peace, Democratization and Human Rights and also the deputy director and subsequently, the director of the UP Third World Studies Center at the University of the Philippines.

Dec. 12-15
Panels extend December 12 to 14 scheduled talks by one day but end talks on the Annexes to the FAB on Dec. 15 with no Joint Statement on what transpired during the four-day negotiations in Kuala Lumpur and no date set for the next meeting.

MindaNews sources said TWG on Power-Sharing group accomplished 97% of  its task, the TWG on Wealth-Sharing achieved a “breakthrough” and the TWG on Normalization made “significant progress.”

Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities “99% complete” but parties were deadlocked on a major issue that for the MILF is ‘non-negotiable:’ the leadership of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the body that will take over the ARMM as soon as the Bangsamoro Basic Law is ratified, they said, should be MILF-led.

Dec. 17
President Aquino issues Executive Order 120 creating the Transition Commission (TransCom).

Dec. 18
House Resolution 971, introduced by Mindanawon representatives Jesus Sacdalan of North Cotabato, Tupay Loong of Sulu, Simeon Datumanong of Maguindanao and Acmad Tomawis (Ang Laban ng Indiginong Filipino partylist) expressed support to the 2012 FAB “and its implementation, including the creation of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.” The resolution said the FAB provides for the “empowerment of the Bangsamoro people by creating the space for their meaningful participation in the process of enacting the Bangsamoro Basic law through the creation of the Transition Commission.”

Dec. 19
Senate Resolution 922 Senate Resolution 922, introduced by Mindanawon senator Teofisto Guingona III, expressed support to the EO. The resolution said the signing of the FAB “has inspired optimism and hope that a just framework for peace in the Muslim Mindanao region through a partnership with the Bangsamoro has been achieved” and that this “partnership and mutual recognition among our peoples are crucial in the process of nation building by providing spaces for our diverse cultures and traditions, under one sovereign Philippine Republic.”

January 2013
Jan. 1
GPH peace panel chair Ferrer’s New Year message expresses optimism  “it should not take more than two months to finish the four annexes.”

By then, Ferrer said,  the 15-member TransCom “should have been fully organized and ready to build on the terms laid out by the Panels in the Annexes.”

“The future is on track,” she said .

Jan. 21-25
GPH and MILF peace panels end five-day peace talks at 5:25 p.m. January 25, without completing any of the four annexes to the FAB.

Joint Statement claims talks “successfully ended” with both parties “achieving a milestone” with the signing of the Terms of Reference for the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT), the body that will “review, assess, evaluate and monitor the implementation of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its Annexes.”

The panels will identify the members of the TPMT “within one month,” the Joint Statement said. (As of  April 11, the panels have yet to announce if they have identified TPMT members).

Joint Statement also announced the extension of the tours of duty of the Malaysian-led  International Monitoring Team (IMT) and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) for another year  “in recognition of their important roles in the peace process, without prejudice to adjustments that may be needed pursuant to developments in the crafting of the Annexes to the FAB.”

Progress on the negotiations on the Annexes was mentioned in the Joint Statement only on the third of the six-paragraph statement. It said the panels “expressed satisfaction on the continuing progress of the discussions on the Annexes to the FAB,” agreed to meet again in February and are “confident that the Annexes will be completed and signed at the soonest possible time.”

February 2013
Feb. 11 

Sajahatra Bangsamoro, , a socio-economic peace initiative of the government in partnership with the MILF, launched at the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.  President Benigno Simeon Aquino III is the first Philippine President to have been welcomed into their turf by MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and members of the MILF Central Committee.

February 11 was exactly 10 years to the day the Philippine government, under then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, launched  aerial bombings to signal the start of the Buliok war on the day of  Eid’l Adha (Feast  of Sacrifice). At least 400,000 persons were displaced. Neither government nor the MILF remembered February 11, 2003.

MindaNews sources said an important issue over which the panels had an impasse was resolved by the President and the MILF chair during the launch.

Feb. 12
Members of the “Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo” arrive in Lahad Datu, Sabah. The group is led by Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, who claims to be Sultan of Sulu. Standoff with Malaysian authorities ends March 1 as violence ensues.

Feb. 25
Malacanang announces members of the 15-member TransCom. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda also announces that it would be chaired by MILF peace panel chair Iqbal.

Feb. 25-27
GPH and MILF peace panels end their three-day talks in Kuala Lumpur at 9:49 p.m February 27 with the panels signing only one of four annexes.

The panels sign the six-page “Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities” which specifies, among others, that the Bangsamoro Transition Authority would be “MILF-led”

Also signed was the Terms of Reference for the Independent Commission on Policing (ICP), the body that would submit recommendations to the peace panels on the police force for the Bangsamoro.

The four-page TOR on the ICP was prepared by the technical working group on Normalization.

March 2013
March 25 

March 25 to 27 talks reset for April.

GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer meets with MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal in a “special meeting” in Kuala Lumpur on March 25.  Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles issues a six-paragraph press statement announcing the “first en banc meeting” of the Transition Commission on April 3 and in the fourth paragraph says President Aquino sought a postponement of the talks. No reason was cited in the statement e-mailed to media outlets 15 minutes before the 3 p.m. meeting of Ferrer and Iqbal.

April 2013
April 3
TransCom holds “first en banc meeting” at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Pasig City. A press conference immediately follows. But more than half of the 43-minute presscon is spent on the Sabah crisis.

Apr. 9 – 11
Panels end their three-day negotiations with the three annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro still unfinished.

Joint Statement says they will “meet again after the May 13 Philippine elections” to finish the annexes.

Discussions of the TWG on Normalization are “moving the parties towards an agreement on the architecture for the normalization process,” it said.

The eight-paragraph statement said the panels “continued to find ways to resolve remaining issues on the annexes on wealth-sharing, power-sharing and normalization,  agreeing to exchange notes through the facilitator in the coming days” and affirmed their commitment to “finally settle these issues soon so that all three annexes may be signed without undue delay.”

Terms of Reference of the Sajahatra Bangsamoro, a socio-economic peace initiative of government in partnership with the MILF which was personally launched by President Aquino on February 11 in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)