GPH, MILF vow to pursue talks, condemn violence by Misuari-led MNLF forces in Zambo

September 13, 2013 9:13 am 

By Ben Cal

MANILA, Sept. 13 (PNA) -– Unfazed by the stand-off in Zamboanga City now on its fourth day following the barbaric attack perpetrated by rogue rebels of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) identified with Nur Misuari, the peace panels of both the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) meeting in Kuala Lumpur for the 40th exploratory talks, vowed to “pursue the peace process to its just and rightful conclusion.

In a joint statement issued in Kuala Lumpur where the 40th exploratory talk is being held, the GPH and MILF peace panels “condemned in the strongest terms the violence” staged by Misuari’s group.”

“The parties remain committed to pursuing the peace process to its just and rightful conclusion, in the belief that it is through partnership that institutions reflective of the true needs and aspirations of the Bangsamoro and other peoples of Mindanao shall be installed,” it said, adding that “the perpetrators must be stopped and held accountable for their acts.”

Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, GPH peace panel chair, said the government is resolved “to hurdle the difficulties we are facing in the negotiations,” saying “we will also overcome the security challenges confronting us in various parts of Mindanao today.”

Last Monday, around 400 MNLF forces attacked communities in Zamboanga City, killing six people and wounding several others even as the MNLF took more than 100 as hotage and use them as human shield to prevent government forces from launching a counter-attack.

Government forces have surrounded the area where the MNLF fighters are hold up, together with their hostages.Ferrer said that “there are groups and leaders who are waiting for this process to fail,” but the government and the MILF will work together to succeed in forging and implementing a comprehensive peace pact that is inclusive of the interest and welfare of all in the Bangsamoro.”

“We cannot allow this process to fail,” she added. “We have to show to one and all that through reason and compassion, through dialogue and cooperation, we can create the process and the institutions that will enable one and all, exercising their free will but refraining from the use of all forms of violence, to rebuild their societies and polities.”

The agenda in this round of talks is to complete the two remaining annexes on power sharing and normalization. Two annexes have already been signed this year, namely the Annex on Transitional Arrangements on Modalities, signed in February, and the Annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing, signed in July. These four annexes, together with the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, will comprise the comprehensive agreement which the parties aim to sign within the year.

“We know that the fire fights are exposing the GPH-MILF talks to criticism. But our response is simple. Will aborting this negotiation make other groups happy and stop their violent acts? Will preventing ourselves from finishing our work enable peace to prevail? Not at all. The opposite in fact may be truer,” -Ferrer stressed.

Even with previous strings of violence, both peace panels expressed shared resolve to not allow spoilers to derail the peace process.

On the other hand, MILF panel chair Mohagher Iqbal reiterated on the need to fast track the peace negotiations. “The longer the peace negotiations drag on, the better they (MNLF) believe it is good for them. They may really feast on our perceived failures. However, the noises they are creating nowadays do not mean they are getting stronger. Their very nature and the message that they are exposing is not appealing or attractive to the vast majority of the people especially their view that their civilian casualties are given in war,” Iqbal said.

“Therefore, the best way to deprive them of any opportunity to put into play their anarchist agenda at the expense of the peace talks is for the parties to conclude their negotiation and without delay sign the comprehensive peace agreement. There can be no other antidote to these rumblings except through this way,” he said. (PNA)

CTB/RBC/RSM

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