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Palace urged to resume talks with MILF

By Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:40:00 10/15/2008

Filed Under: Mindanao peace process, Armed conflict, Agreement (general), Laws

MANILA, Philippines?Malacañang should promptly resume peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front after the Supreme Court invalidated the proposed deal on the Moro homeland, Senator Rodolfo Biazon said Wednesday.

In a long-distance call from Switzerland, Biazon, chair of the Senate committee on national defense and security, said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should have realized by now that the controversial memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain had no legal leg to stand on.

Biazon, along with Senate President Manuel Villar and Senators Pia Cayetano, Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Gregorio Honasan, is in Geneva for the annual assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

More than 1,000 delegates from some 40 countries are attending the three-day 119th assembly of the IPU which started Monday.

This time, however, Biazon proposes that Indonesia facilitate the peace talks.

?However, I still maintain my position that the government should explore the possibility of the peace talks being resumed without foreign intervention. If, however, this is not possible, we should explore the proposition that another country be the broker of the peace process instead of Malaysia,? Biazon said.

Bizon, former Armed Forces chief of staff, said Malaysia had a "conflict of interest" in brokering the peace process between the Philippine government and the MILF because of the standing Philippine claim to the east Malaysian state of Sabah.

He said the Sabah issue was still ?unresolved.?

Biazon also pointed to the ?conflict of claims? over the Spratlys, a group of tiny islands in the South China Sea being claimed, in whole or in part, by Malaysia, the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Brunei.

?If we allow Malaysia to continue we will be disadvantaged on both counts (Sabah and Spratlys' issues). The participation of Malaysia will be less than credible.?

The senator said that ?in some people's mind? the partiality of Malaysia as a broker could have been also considered by the Supreme Court in invalidating agreement.

Biazon maintained the possibility of Indonesia serving as a peace broker or the facilitator ?as it has already helped the Philippines in the peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front in the Jakarta Accord of 1996.?

Besides its ?good track record,? Indonesia is ?friendly to us.?

?I am therefore filing a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate on this matter ? asking Indonesia to facilitate this peace process. We cannot abandon the peace process. The alternative to peace will only be too costly and too destructive to the country,? Biazon said.

While in the IPU assembly, Biazon said, he has explored this idea ?unofficially.?

?So far, they seemed to be receptive to the idea, so I came here to follow through with that position of mine,? said Biazon.

Senator Francis Escudero, for his part, said the Palace should be blamed for giving Moro rebels a ?false hope.?

?The MOA on ancestral domain that the government entered into with the MILF is a big sin to the people of Mindanao,? he said, expecting violence to spark anew because the MILF would soon realize that it had been duped by the national government into acceding to an ?unimplementable? accord.



Copyright 2014 Philippine Daily Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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