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Palace hopeful about peace pact with MILF early 2013

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Palace hopeful about peace pact with MILF early 2013

/ 06:06 PM May 20, 2012

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Malacañang remains hopeful that a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) could be signed before next year’s mid-term elections, according to government chief negotiator Marvic Leonen.

Speaking at the multi-stakeholders’ forum organized by the Mindanao People’s Caucus here on Friday, Leonen cited the possibility of a final peace agreement being inked before the yearend.

“The government is hopeful to sign the (peace) agreement within the year or at the first half of next year,” he said.

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But Leonen admitted that the government has been keeping its “guarded optimism” over the peace process because the next stage of the talks would be “more difficult.”

“Lahat ng mga mahihirap, pinag uusapan ngayon (The difficult issues are being tackled now,” he said, adding that these included “political settlement which is not very easy to talk about.”

“Both parties respect each other but there will be times in the next two rounds that might be as dark as before,” Leonen said.

Leonen said the Aquino administration would like to sign a peace accord that could be implemented within its period of governance.

He said the Aquino administration knew the importance of beating this time frame because the country’s political landscape could change in 2013, at the earliest, or 2016.

“We all know the political realities,” Leonen said, without elaborating.

In 2008, pressures from politicians and other sectors also forced the Arroyo government to backtrack on a peace settlement it had forged with the MILF.

Earlier, Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Quintos urged stakeholders in the peace process between the government and the MILF to study the issues well so they could contribute positively.

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“Read and study. You will see how broad and deep the GPH (Government of the Philippines)-MILF peace process is,” Deles said, apparently trying to stifle criticisms over the result of the last round of talks, during which, negotiators agreed to expand the coverage of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Deles said that by reading and studying the issues, stakeholders “will be able to understand how much there is that needs to be discussed on the peace table.”

She urged the public “to ask if there are things that need to be further explained and help in crafting an agreement that is acceptable to the majority.”

Deles cited the importance of citizen participation in the peace process, saying, “ordinary citizens should take part in supporting and guarding the peace talks.”

She said she was also hoping that the agreement, which both sides considered a milestone in the talks, would push aside negative feedback that nothing has been happening at the peace table.

Dr. Akihiko Tanaka, president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), said last Wednesday that the agreement would certainly usher in a “new political reality.”

“As a political scientist, I know that a peace process is very hard but with strong commitment and determination, all obstacles will be overcome,” Tanaka said. With reports from Charlie Señase and Edwin Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: Armed conflict, Insurgency, Islamic rebellion, Marvic Leonen, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, News, peace negotiations, peace process, Peace Talks, Philippine Government, rebellion, Regions
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