Istambay sa Mindanao

Personal blog of MindaNews' Walter I. Balane. Visit for more news, views and information on Mindanao.

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Location: Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Mindanao, Philippines

I'm Walter Balane. I am a journalist based in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Philippines. I initiated the group called Atong Press ( for press freedom and responsibility and media education in Bukidnon.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Updates: Intricate decors, intricate talks

The catchy colors and unique designs in the photo could not escape me.

When I saw those traditional Moro decors last year hanged inside the Office of the MILF Peace Panel in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, I linked it to the on-going peace process between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.

Its an intricate negotiations out there. The good thing is, they are talking and are not in two sides of another damaging and retrogressive war.

In 2005, we interviewed Moro leader Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, who by then just assumed the MILF chairmanship. The confident former MILF vice chair for military affairs and peace panel chair expressed optimism with the talks. He was fresh from the MILF general assembly a week before the interview.

Earlier this year, at the on-set of exploratory talks, both panels floated the possiblity of the peace agreement being signed "before the year ends". In fact some insinuated the signing to take place in September for a number of reasons.

The 'peoples' of Mindanao and the rest of the country welcomed this development. Hopefully, it will finally put an end to this age-old and circuitous problem in Mindanao. It takes a calloused, backward and war-freak mind not to be excited about this. This means a wider way to peace in Mindanao, no less.

There were hesitations or uncertainties though with that cue. Lately, reports came out about the difficulties in the negotiations on ancestral domain, which is very important in the definition of Bangsamoro territory. Perhaps, this also make waves in the discussions on the Bangsamoro Juridical entity.

There is also the move to "harmonize" negotiations beyond the MILF, to include the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), that signed a peace agreement with the government 10 years ago. The issue could be focal to the release of detained MNLF leader Nur Misuari, among other concerns. (For an additional discussion on Misuari and related development, read here and here.)

Both panels impressed that the signing would still be possible this year. "We are still working on the timeline". MindaNews' Carol Arguillas reports about this

But Mindanawon senator Aquilino Pimentel said its a long overdue peace agreement and without it means a "big headache for the nation".

Hopefully, both parties can pull it off already this year so Mindanao and the rest of the country could already move forward.

We can hope and pray that it will happen, insa'Allah, with God's will. He may grant Mindanao's bright aspirations.


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