KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—The 33rd round of formal exploratory talks of the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is set to wrap up Saturday, a day earlier than what was initially expected by both parties.
The technical working groups putting together the annexes on power sharing, wealth sharing and normalization are said to have completed their discussions and completed their reports, including details that would make up the comprehensive peace agreement.
Sources told the Inquirer that the early finish of this round of talks came as a surprise.
Almost all of those attending the talks, from the negotiators to their staff, have booked flights back to Manila on Monday.
The closing ceremony is scheduled Saturday afternoon at which government and MILF chief negotiators Marvic Leonen and Mohagher Iqbal are expected to give their statements.
The technical working groups’ reports would be submitted to the respective panels who would vet the contents and elevate them to President Benigno Aquino and MILF chair Murad Ebrahim for final approval.
The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the annexes on power sharing, wealth sharing, and normalization will make up the comprehensive peace agreement.
At the Palace of the Golden Horses where the talks are being held, the mood was celebratory.
Members of the technical working group on the wealth-sharing and normalization annexes egged staff from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to take their group pictures on the hotel staircase.
Leonen told the Inquirer Friday afternoon that the draft annexes were almost complete but he was uncertain when the ongoing round of talks would finish.
He was particularly pleased with the progress of the talks on normalization, which includes the decommissioning of arms and forces of the MILF, as the technical working groups of the GPH and the MILF met for the first time this week.
“But there was a lot of consensus (that) emerged on the process of normalization.… It was a smooth discussion,” Leonen said.