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RP drops surrender demand for talks with MILF

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But operations vs Kato, et al to continue

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:58:00 03/05/2009

MANILA, Philippines — The government has agreed to drop the surrender of three Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) commanders who led attacks on civilian communities in central Mindanao last year as a precondition for the resumption of peace talks, Presidential Peace Adviser Avelino Razon Jr. said.

But military operations against Ameril Ombra Kato, Abdullah Macapaar and Aleem Pangalian will continue, Razon clarified.

He said the surrender demand was dropped to “speed up” the resumption of the negotiations.

“We no longer impose that [surrender of three commanders] as a precondition,” Razon said in a statement.

“But we are not dropping the arrest, the operations, the pursuit against these commanders,” he said in a phone interview, when sought for clarification.

Razon said the government had been asking the MILF to surrender the three commanders as a gesture of “good faith,” but the rebels have refused.

Asked if the government was disappointed with the MILF’s refusal, Razon said: “Hindi naman [not really]. What we want is to push the peace process forward.”

Peace talks ground to a halt in early August 2008 when the Supreme Court stopped government and rebel negotiators from signing a key agreement that would pave the way for the expansion of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Soon after, rebels led by Kato, Macapaar, and Pangalian led attacks on civilian communities in the provinces of North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte, and Saranggani, killing dozens of people. The subsequent fighting displaced up to half a million persons.

The high court eventually declared the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain unconstitutional.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2009-03-05T14:38:24+00:00UTC03bUTCThu, 05 Mar 2009 14:38:24 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm03

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