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Arroyo woos int’l support for MILF talks

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:31:00 01/26/2009

Filed Under: Mindanao peace process, Foreign affairs & international relations

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appealed for the international community’s support for government efforts to restart peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Arroyo said the government’s negotiating panel to talks with the MILF is “poised and ready” for “substantive discussions, including ceasefire-related issues.”

“The panel is poised and ready to discuss on substantive discussions, including ceasefire-related issues, the international monitoring team and accelerated development for Mindanao, we hope all parties are as committed as government to resume negotiations soon,” she said in a speech at the 18th anniversary of the Philippine National Police (PNP) at Camp Crame, in Quezon City on Monday.
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“To advance peace and progress in Mindanao as in the past, we hope to be able to count on the support of our partners in the International Monitoring Team [IMT] –Brunei, Japan, and Libya [and] Malaysia, who has been an ardent facilitator — our other friends in the OIC [Organization of Islamic Conference], our friends in Europe and in the United States,” Arroyo said

The IMT is a multinational body that monitors a ceasefire agreement between the military and MILF.

Peace negotiations ground to a halt in August 2007 when some MILF commanders led raids on civilian communities in the provinces of North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte after the Supreme Court stopped the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MoA-AD) after questions were raised on its unconstitutionality.

The Supreme Court later declared the MoA-AD unconstitutional.

Arroyo recently appointed former national police chief Avelino Razon Jr. as her peace adviser, replacing former military chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who has been named head of the Presidential Management Staff.

“Under Sonny’s oversight, the peace panel has been directed to touch base with our facilitators and the MILF leaders to schedule the resumption of peace talks,” she said in her speech.

Razon, who attended the PNP rites, said there needs to be a “cessation of hostilities” in Mindanao for the talks with the MILF to resume as he urged the rebels to “trust” government.

“What is important is the trust and confidence of both parties in each other,” he said.

“Violations of the law and acts of terrorism” by the MILF must first stop, Razon said.

He also said continued military operations against the rebel commanders who attacked civilian communities would not affect chances for the peace talks’ resumption because these were “targeted at the ‘lawless MILF group and not the majority of the MILF who are helping us resume the talks.”

Razon, whose term begins February 1, also stressed that new peace talks should be “constitutional” and based on the disarmament, demobilization, and rehabilitation policy Arroyo ordered after hostilities broke out in August.

“What we will implement will be based on the guidelines of the President. It would be based on constitutionality, it will be community-based,” Razon said.

In her speech, Arroyo also welcomed the guilty verdict on three men accused of carrying out a bomb attack on a train of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) on December 30, 2000

The LRT attack was one of five carried out in Metro Manila on the holiday honoring the country’s national hero and known as the Rizal Day bombings.

“To the PNP, congratulations for your fight against the JI [Jemaah Islamiyah] and other terrorists,” Arroyo said, referring to the Southeast Asian terror network to which the three convicted bombers reportedly belonged.

Abigail Kwok, INQUIRER.net

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

MonUTC2009-01-26T13:57:41+00:00UTC01bUTCMon, 26 Jan 2009 13:57:41 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm01

Posted in Uncategorized

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