Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Third party may sow violence to disrupt peace process--MILF

Side Effect of Malaysian Pull-out

COTABATO CITY, Philippines--The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has expressed apprehension over the violence that could erupt between its forces and the military once Malaysia and Brunei totally pull out of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) in May.

Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief negotiator said on Sunday third parties might take advantage of the situation to launch attacks that would drag government troops and the MILF into skirmishes.

Malaysia has the largest contingent in the 66-man IMT, a body formed by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to monitor the ceasefire agreement that Manila and the rebel group signed in 2001 to build the right environment for the peace talks.

Both the government and the MILF have acknowledged that the IMT has been instrumental in ironing out problems that could have sparked renewed hostilities between the military and rebel forces in various parts of Mindanao.

Kuala Lumpur said the decision to pull out its contingent was prompted by its frustration over the progress of the talks. Since December 2007, the negotiations have hit a snag, particularly over issues on Moro ancestral domain claims.

"It might disturb the peace and order on the ground. The fighting between our forces and military was reduced to almost zero due to the presence of the IMT," Iqbal said.

Iqbal said he was not worried about MILF guerrillas staging attacks if the Malaysians were to pull out. He said MILF guerrillas respected the ceasefire.

"[But] it can give a signal to a third party to launch attack anytime," he said, to drag the government and the MILF into war.

Retired Gen. Rodolfo Garcia, government chief negotiator, said the government would be open to the idea of inviting other countries to participate in the peace process with the MILF.

He said member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) may also be tapped to play a key role in the peace talks.

In Davao City, Indonesian Consul General Lalu Malik Partawana said his government would find ways to contribute more to the peace talks between the Philippine government and the MILF.

Like Malaysia, Indonesia is also a member of the OIC.

"From our part we would like to find out the best solution to these things [suspension of the peace talks and IMT]," Partawana said.

He said Indonesia and the OIC would like to see the Philippine government signing a final peace deal with the MILF, similar to the "successful deal" that led to the signing of the peace agreement between Manila and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996.

Indonesia chairs the Committee of the Eight, an OIC body that helps monitor the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement between the Philippine government and the MNLF.

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