Aquino gov't determined to put an end to Mindanao conflict

August 13, 2010 11:39 am 

MANILA, Aug. 12 — Malacanang expressed its determination to put an end to the decades-old conflict in Southern Philippines and finally achieve a long-lasting peace for Muslim-Filipinos.

In a press briefing on Thursday at Malacanang, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda stressed that the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III will definitely sit at the negotiating table to resume the stalled peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country's largest Muslim rebel group, after the Holy Feast of Ramadan or after Sept. 9.

"There is no hesitancy on the part of government to pursue the peace talks after the Ramadan. We would like to assure the MILF that the government is sincere in its efforts to resume the peace talks. It's just a matter of time. Let's wait after the end of Ramadan and we assure the MILF that we are serious about pursuing the peace process," Lacierda stressed.

According to Lacierda the Aquino administration is in the process of studying all the agreements concluded with the MILF and "from there the peace talks resumes."

"Let me be clear, we are not starting from scratch. We recognized the past agreements; we are reviewing them; we are conducting due diligence on these agreements. So, we would like to tell our Muslim brothers that we are not starting from scratch," he said.

Lacierda noted that the composition of the government peace panel will be completed by September, before the peace negotiations resume.

Earlier, Lacierda pointed out that the move of the President to appoint UP College of Law Dean Marvic Leonen as government's chief negotiator signified his strong determination to resume talks with the MILF.

Peace negotiations between the government and the MILF were stalled in August 2008, following the aborted signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOAD).

In his first State of the Nation Address before the joint session of the 15th Congress last July 26, the President expressed hope the peace talks would resume after the Ramadan and stressed that putting an end to the conflict in Mindanao is one of his priorities.

The Chief Executive had underscored the importance of seeking peaceful settlement to armed conflict that have hobbled development for the past 40 years. (PNA)

DCT/OPS/ssc

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