Peace talks won’t be derailed, says MalacañangPhilippine Daily Inquirer
The latest attacks in Maguindanao and North Cotabato by Moro breakaway rebels will not derail peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Malacañang said yesterday.
Government and MILF negotiators will return to Kuala Lumpur today to further thresh out details of a peace deal that both parties have agreed to hammer out within the year.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles condemned the “unprovoked and senseless attacks” on military installations by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM) identified with Ameril Umra Kato.
Deles said the rebels were led by Ustadz Carialan, the BIFM chief of staff.
The strikes during Ramadan only demonstrated their disrespect for the Islamic holy month and disregard for innocent lives, she said in a statement read by presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda during a Palace briefing.
He said the government’s “primordial consideration” is the safety of civilians who have been caught in the crossfire.
“This act of aggression of the BIFM is meant to derail the peace process between the government and the MILF,” the statement said.
Chief MILF negotiator Mohagher Iqbal told the Inquirer by phone that both panels had earlier agreed to hold two exploratory meetings this month in a bid to fast-track the negotiations.
During last month’s meeting, the issue of transition dominated the discussions.
In their eventual joint statement, the panels said they were confident of “wrapping up discussions on mechanisms toward the realization of a new political entity….”
In April, the parties agreed to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a new autonomous political entity which has far greater economic and political powers consistent with the self-governance aspiration of the Moro people.
Senior Superintendent Marcelo Pintac, Maguindanao police director, said the rebels cut the main power lines along the national highway in the province. “They cut the electricity lines and destroyed the wooden power posts using chainsaws,” Pintac said. Reports from Michael Lim Ubac and Marlon Ramos in Manila; and Ryan D. Rosauro, Inquirer Mindanao