MILF may lose sleep over Roxas entry to Aquino Cabinet

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09:29 PM May 18th, 2011

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By: Dona Pazzibugan, May 18th, 2011 09:29 PM

MANILA, Philippines — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has aired misgivings about Mar Roxas’ entry in President Aquino’s Cabinet for its effect on the ongoing negotiations to end the decades-long secessionist war in Mindanao.

MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said Roxas has not been “a supporter of the peace process” recalling how the President’s defeated running mate had been instrumental in aborting a deal entered into by the former Arroyo administration with the MILF in 2008.

The Supreme Court junked as unconstitutional the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, which would have laid the foundation for the creation of an expanded Bangsamoro homeland in Mindanao.

Renewed hostilities broke out when the MILF went up in arms over the Supreme Court decision.

“Roxas was very instrumental in opposing the signing of the MOA-AD so we do not look at (his appointment as chief of staff) as a positive factor as far as the peace process is concerned,” Iqbal said in a phone interview with reporters in Manila.

He insisted that by actively opposing the aborted MOA-AD, Roxas has shown “his real color that he was opposed to the real resolution of the conflict in Mindanao.”

“The past record showed that he is not really supporter of the peace process. Maybe, he can change this time, we do not know. I cannot advise the President directly because that is internal to the government but… Roxas has not had a very good record as far as supporting the peace process is concerned. I think the President should take that into consideration,” Iqbal went on.

Iqbal nevertheless admitted that despite Roxas’ official role in Malacañang, the future of the peace talks would ultimately be up to the President.

Peace talks between the government under the Aquino administration and the MILF resumed last March in Malaysia.

The MILF said their supporters campaigned against Roxas as well Liberal Party senatorial candidate Franklin Drilon in the May 2010 national elections.

The MILF claimed Roxas lost to eventual Vice President Jejomar Binay in all Muslim-dominated provinces and cities except Tawi Tawi “where …the MILF is not very strong.”

Roxas narrowly lost to Binay by 800,000 votes while Franklin Drilon, another LP member who has opposed the MOA-AD, won a fresh six-year term as senator.

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