Aquino shares MILF views says peace negotiators must be problem solvers

NEGOTIATORS of both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) must be problem solvers rather than trouble makers, President Benigno Aquino said echoing the statements made by MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.

“Hopefully, if I can get everybody’s attention to the statement that chairman Murad said himself, iyong negotiating panel have to be focused, that they are problem solvers rather than antagonists. And I am very hopeful that, that is indicative that there is an intense desire to achieve a just and comprehensive peace agreement,” the President said referring to Murad’s statements.

The President’s meeting with the MILF leader as well as other high ranking officials of the rebel group last week in Japan was aimed at showing the government’s sincerity in pursuing the ongoing peace talks and at the same time fast track the negotiations.

Malacanang assured this week that it would consider the views of all stakeholders in the peace talks with the MILF before both panels meet on August 22 to 24.

According to Secretary Teresita Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the government panel will continue to work with different constituencies in preparation for the said meeting.

In a media briefing last week, government chief negotiator Marvic Leonen said both sides were expected to discuss the significant agenda in the upcoming formal talks this month.

At the same time, Leonen said there was no “secret deal” forged between the government and the MILF during the Japan meeting adding that the Aquino government will not commit the same mistakes made by the past administration. (PCOO)

Aquino and MILF Chair Murad agree: ‘We are not adversaries’

PRESIDENT Benigno S. Aquino III said that if he were to sum up in one sentence the outcome of his meeting with Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in a hotel in Tokyo, Japan last August 4, it would be that both sides agreed that they are not adversaries.

The President revealed this piece of information in an interview at the sidelines of the commemoration of the 110th Police Service Anniversary of the Philippine National Police on Monday in Quezon City. “If there is one central message that, to me, really stuck is the idea na “tayo ay hindi magka-tunggali (We are not adversaries),” the President said.

The President met with Ebrahim in hopes of ending the decades long war that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people.
He expressed confidence that through their meeting, a mutual “cooperation” between the two sides could be reached.

“I would like to think they will be cooperative as far as improving the situation, especially in the ARMM
(Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) and Mindanao in particular,” the President said. (PCOO)

Malaysia to remain as peace talks facilitator

MALAYSIA will continue to act as facilitator at the resumption of peace talks in Mindanao.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo disclosed this Tuesday following the courtesy call
of Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato Sri Anifah Aman on President Benigno S. Aquino III in

Romulo said Malaysia has been playing a constructive and positive role to encourage a
peaceful resolution in the Mindanao problem.

The President welcomed Minister Anifah who was accompanied by Malaysian Ambassador
to the Philippines Dato’ Seri Dr. Ibrahim Saad.

Also present during the call were Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
Secretary Teresita Deles and DFA Undersecretary Erlinda Basilio.

Minister Anifah’s visit centered on Malaysia’s role in the formal peace negotiations scheduled
this month between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

As its closest neighbor in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the
Philippines earlier decided to retain Malaysia as third party facilitator in the resumption of the
GRP-MILF peace talks, a role which Malaysia has assumed since 2001.

Since 2004, Malaysia also led the International Monitoring Team together with Libya, Japan
and Brunei which successfully contributed to the comprehensive peace process in Mindanao.

MILF forms new peace panel

THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) announced Monday the members of its new panel that will continue peace negotiations with the Philippine government.

MILF secretariat chairman Muhammad Ameen said Mohagher Iqbal will remain chairman of the peace panel. He said other members, including lawyer Datu Michael Mastura and Maulana Bobby Alonto, were retained as members of the group, except Lanang Ali and Musib Buat due to health problems.

The MILF named Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga, chairman of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies; and Abdullah Camlian, chairman of the MILF technical committee, as new panel members.

Another peace panel member is Datu Antonio Kinoc of B’laan tribe from Columbio, Sultan Kudarat.

The MILF deactivated its peace panel in June 23 following its last meeting with its government counterpart under the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The MILF said it reconstituted its peace negotiating panel Sunday, after its central committee held a meeting mainly to discuss this agenda. (PIA)

MILF welcomes peace talks but wary of ‘little details’

THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) welcomes the intention of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to resume peace talks, but is wary that “little details” may yet derail the peace process.

“We cannot question (his) intention (but the) devils in negotiations is in the details,” said MILF peace panel member, lawyer Lanang Ali, in an article on the MILF website.

“Sometimes, words are used to conceal what is in the hearts of men,” Ali said, but added Aquino enjoys a relatively high trust rating among the Moros of Mindanao at this time.

In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), Aquino said peace and tranquility can be achieved if “those affected will talk with one another— the Moro, Lumad, Christians.” Aquino said peace negotiations with the MILF can resume after the Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting which begins on August 11 this year and ends on September 9.

However, Datu Antonio Kinoc, an alternate member of the MILF peace panel representing the indigenous tribes of Mindanao, said the SONA was “very soft and merely repeated the old cliché that in order to solve the problem, ‘people-to-people’ talking to each other is encouraged.”

He said the problem in Mindanao is rooted in sovereignty issues and the conflict requires sincere, hard, and objective solution. “More importantly, political will is the key to solving this conflict,” Kinoc said. (PIA-Bohol)