Malaysia rejoins IMT of Mindanao peace process

January 21, 2010 11:00 pm 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, Jan. 21 — After more than a year of hiatus, Malaysia returns to the renegotiated Mindanao peace process by rejoining the International Monitoring Team (IMT) as its leader effective the middle of February, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Special Concerns Rafael Seguis confirmed Thursday.

Even when it was out of the IMT since December 2008, Malaysia has remained the facilitator of the now-resumed peace talks between the panels of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Seguis said Malaysia formally agreed to rejoin the IMT last December 7. Others in the IMT who served without a gap since the body was formed in 2004 are Libya, Brunei and, later, Japan.

The IMT will basically look into the ceasefire plans of the Philippine government as it prepares for the May 2010 national elections. Malaysia will deploy about 60 personnel from its various military forces.

Seguis also said that Norway, Indonesia and Qatar have been invited to join but their response is still awaited.

As to the resumed talks, Seguis said that “deepened exploratory talks” will continue in Kuala Lumpur next week.

He maintained that the MILF’s usual point of reference is the issue of a Bangsamoro ancestral domain, or a separate homeland for Muslims.

But the GRP, he added, will “never compromise” on what is constitutionally-mandated as Philippine territory.

The GRP-MILF talks resumed late 2009, after they conked out in August 2008 following a Supreme Court decision annulling the so-called Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain between the GRP and the MILF that favoured a physical area reserved for Moros only.

Seguis was not the head of the GRP panel at the time, though Mohagher Iqbal remained remained the MILF’s representative. (PNA)



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