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Arroyo assures Mindanaoans of gov’t commitment to peace

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:10:00 09/18/2008

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assured residents of Mindanao on Thursday of the government’s commitment to end the four-decades-old conflict there through peace talks even as she again stressed that “we will not negotiate with a gun pointed at our head.”

To show her solidarity with Muslim Filipinos, Arroyo joined a community in Pagadian City on Wednesday evening for the “Bukah” or the daily breaking of the fast during the holy month of Ramadan, Malacañang said.

On Thursday, the President attended a meeting of the Local Peace and Security Assembly (LPSA) at the Dakak Beach Resort in Dapitan City.

“We are committed to doing everything to bring lasting peace, not only in the Zamboanga Peninsula, but to the whole of Mindanao, and to end 40 years of fighting that has killed more than 120,000 Filipinos,” Arroyo said a speech during the meeting.

Arroyo also reiterated her shift in policy from talking to armed groups, to talking directly to communities. This, she said, was prompted by attacks of “lawless” members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on civilian communities in Central Mindanao.

“We remain committed to the peace process. We have negotiated in good faith with our Muslim brethren to keep the peace this last seven years and also to look for a lasting peace for generations to come…We will not negotiate with a gun pointed at our head,” she said.

Arroyo also assured local officials that the government would not sign the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) between government and MILF peace negotiators.

“No matter what the Supreme Court ultimately decides, the government will not sign the proposed MOA-AD,” she said.

The Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order against the MOA-AD, after local government officials in Mindanao questioned its constitutionality. The accord would have paved the way for the expansion of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) into the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE).

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-09-18T09:30:26+00:00UTC09bUTCThu, 18 Sep 2008 09:30:26 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am09

Posted in Uncategorized

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