Aquino: We will talk only to those who want peace
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday said the government was ready to talk peace in Mindanao but only with groups who want it and warned that those against it would be answerable to the State.
“Our policy is to face and even encourage those who are ready to talk and dialogue. But those who will put people’s lives at risk will face (the full force of) the state,” Aquino said in a press conference at the newly re-opened Zamboanga Airport.
The President was referring to the other factions of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who condemned the ongoing conflict in Zamboanga City.
Aquino said the government will not allow such groups to sow terror.
Asked if the government was negotiating with the MNLF, Aquino said, “This week there was supposed [to be a discussion] in Indonesia. And we were hoping that it would push through. Unfortunately, this happened. And there is increasing evidence linking Chairman Misuari [to the ongoing conflict].”
Aquino said Misuari was among those included in the talks in Indonesia but he suddenly “changed direction.”
The president said it is up to the group where they want things to go.
He said they will still pursue the talks in Indonesia, at least with MNLF factions who want peace.
The press conference was among the rare times that Aquino faced media while he was personally tending to the conflict in Zamboanga City.
Aquino said they have initially estimated P3.89 billion in funds needed for continuing relief, education, cash-for-work, temporary shelters, and livelihood assistance, among other.
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