Malaysian deputy defense minister conveys hope for peace in Mindanao

April 13, 2011 12:35 am 

MANILA, April 12 — Malaysian Deputy Defense Minister Datuk Dr. Hj. Abd Latiff bin Ahmad is hopeful that a negotiated political settlement between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will come to fruition to bring solutions to the decades-old armed conflict in Mindanao.

“I see light at the end of the tunnel. And that light gets brighter and brighter,” he told Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles during a courtesy call to the peace adviser last Friday at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) headquarters in Pasig.

On top of the resumption of the GPH-MILF peace negotiations, Ahmad noted that the drop in the recorded armed skirmishes between the two forces is indeed a positive development.

Deles assured him that the government is resolute in ending the armed conflict that stunted the economy in the south. “We’re not here to play games and dribble. We’re very serious. Our panel chair (Marvic Leonen) believes that one year is a reasonable time to negotiate a political settlement with the MILF.”

The peace adviser added that the primary concern of the government now is to complete all peace tracks.

“For sure, some things will be left over, but we don’t want to leave problems to the next administration,” she stated.

Deles also said if there would not be a peace agreement within one and half years to three years, it is “either we can’t or someone doesn’t want to.”

“On one side, we want it to happen. We owe it to the people. We keep on losing opportunities that other countries are enjoying now,” she told Ahmad.

Ahmad was in the country from April 7 to 10 to visit the office of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) in Cotabato City and pay courtesy calls to Deles and Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin.

Joining him at the courtesy call were Lt. Gen. Raja Mohamed Affandi bin Raja Mohamed Noor, Malaysian Armed Forces Hq chief of staff; Lt. Gen. Dato’ Seri Panglima Ahmad Hasbullah bin Hj Mohd Nawawi, Malaysian Army Hq field commander; Maj. Gen. Datuk Baharom bin Hamzah, J5 Joint Forces Hq assistant chief of staff; Maj. Gen. Dato’ Ishak bin Yeop Hamzah, Defense Intelligence deputy director general; and Col. Mohd Zahar bin Hashim, defense attache. (PNA)

DCT/LDV/OPAPP/mec

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