Friday, January 11, 2013

New Year’s Message of GPH Chair Miriam Coronel Ferrer: “Finish what we began”

New Year’s Message of GPH Chair Miriam Coronel Ferrer: “Finish what we began”

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Posted on Wednesday, 2 January, 2013 – 09:58
We in the Government Negotiating Panel for Talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) enter 2013 with the conviction to finish what we have begun together with the MILF.
The will and the goodwill are there to make this happen. The two negotiating partners, the Bangsamoro, the peoples of Mindanao, the Filipino public and the international community all want this peace process to succeed.  With this much public support, how can we not reach our goal?
It took some two years to achieve the set of consensus that now make up the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB). The difficult issues were set aside for the annexes.  Only in December did we begin work on a fourth annex.
Still, the GPH and the MILF are way past the mid-way mark after meeting only twice since the signing of the FAB on 15 October 2012. There has been much progress both in the substance and in the ‘languaging’ of the texts.
For one, there has been important breakthrough in coming to terms with the principles that will guide the “intergovernmental relations” between the Central and Bangsamoro governments and constituent parts.
An example is the principle to settle conflicts in laws, programs or policies in a non-adversarial manner. This way harmony is maintained between and among the parts not only under the P-Noy administration but also under all future national administrations.
The three lists defining the allocation of powers – reserved to the Central government, devolved or exclusive to the Bangsamoro, and concurrent – are almost complete. They make up the bulk of the Annex on Power-sharing.
Only about four power-sharing issues remain to be discussed. These remaining issues are substantial and rather technical. The parties have agreed to solicit advice from technical experts to help them find workable solutions.
There is a working consensus on a new and better sharing formula in relation to government revenues derived from the exploration and utilization of natural resources.
This wealth-sharing formula, a set of devolved taxes, and the system of block grants reflect the mutual desire of the two parties to achieve sustainable self-governance and fiscal autonomy for the Bangsamoro.
Soon, the GPH and MILF panels will be presenting to the public a jointly produced road map that shall serve as the official guide to the implementation of the FAB.
There are many more consensus points in the current draft annexes. These will be openly discussed in due time.
More importantly, both parties are open to consider options on the remaining eight or so issues, across the annexes, including the “technical impasse” pertaining to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.
We firmly believe that there is no deal-breaker in this process, in which much trust and effort have been invested, and for which much more support will be given.
It should not take more than two months to finish the four annexes.  By this time, the Transition Commission 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.
A blessed and peaceful new year to all.

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