Palace hopeful peace talks with MILF to open within the year

July 18, 2010 11:50 am 

MANILA, July 17 — Malacañang said on Saturday definitive steps are being taken to hasten the resumption of peace negotiations with both the Muslim and communist rebels.

In an interview with state-run Radyo ng Bayan, newly- appointed Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles said they expect the peace talks to begin “within the next quarter.”

Deles said that the government peace panel is currently being constituted in keeping with the desire of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to attain a “peaceful and just settlement of the armed conflict” in the soonest possible time.

“My government will be sincere in dealing with all the peoples of Mindanao. We are committed to a peaceful and just settlement of conflicts, inclusive of the interests of all — may they be Lumads, Bangsamoro or Christians,” the President said in his inaugural speech on June 30.

“Kaya ating inaasahan na uumpisahan muli iyong pag-uusap at magiging seryoso at masusi ito para magkaintindihan talaga kung ano ba iyong ugat ng conflicts at ano ba iyong kakayanin ng dalawang side para masagot ang problemang ito (That’s why we expect the resumption of the talks to be serious and intense so that we could get to the roots of the conflicts, and know the capabilities of both sides in resolving this problem),” Deles said.

She disclosed that the five-member government peace team headed by Dean Marvic M.V.F. Leonen of the U.P. College of Law would be formed soon preparatory to the exploratory talks.

Deles indicated that nominees to the team are being closely screened, along with the prospective consultants and third party facilitators in a bid to form a strong and dynamic negotiating panel.

She added that the names of the official peace negotiators would be made public once the panel has already been officially formed.

“We want a balanced team with representations that have constituents who fully understand the issues,” Deles stressed.

While the Palace official refused to cite a time frame to complete the preparations, she said unofficial communications could start now.

She said they want Leonen “to be fully on board” before the panel sits down for its first meeting. (PNA)

scs/OPS/rsm

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