« | »

Philippine Muslims Want US As Peacekeepers

From Italy’s AKI:

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Ebrahim ‘al haj’ Murad at camp Darapanan in Maguindanao province, southern Philippines. Philippine prosecutors on Wednesday dropped murder charges against Murad but recommended that 19 other rebels be charged over a series of deadly blasts in the south last month.


Cotabato City, 21 Nov. (AKI) – The largest Muslim rebel group in the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), expressed optimism that a greater role for the United States in the peace process will help move forward the talks between the rebel group and the Philippines government, which recently hit a snag on the issue of ancestral domain. Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator for the MILF, told Adnkronos International (AKI) that their chairman, Murad Ebrahim, welcomed US President George W. Bush’s willingness to play a wider role in the talks between them and Manila.

"Murad was happy with Washington’s direct participation. It will help a lot in the negotiation," Iqbal told AKI on Tuesday.

"With Washington, we are optimistic that the impasse in the negotiation and other obstacles will be resolved and that the decades old rebellion in the south will end. We are tired of fighting with our Filipino brothers," he added.

Iqbal’s words were followed a few hours later by the confirmation by Philippines’ president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s spokesperson, Ignacio Bunye, that US President George W. Bush has accepted Manila’s invitation to take wider role in the peace process.

Arroyo met Bush on the sidelines of the 14th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ meeting at the National Convention Centre in Hanoi, Vietnam, last Saturday.

On that occasion, the Filipino leader said that the American government should have a "deeper and broader" role in the southern island of Mindanao.

As a follow-up, Bush has assigned an official from the US Embassy in Manila to coordinate with Arroyo’s peace adviser, Silvestre Afable.

However, a more direct involvement by Washington is not a recipe for immediate peace, according to Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF deputy chief for political affairs, who admitted that the rebel group is not expecting any peace agreement with Manila within this year.

"Disarming us is not part of the agenda in the talks. But we have several options. It depends on Manila and on whether they grant us our demands," Jaafar told AKI , on Tuesday.

"But I think we have to be very cautious what agreement would be signed between us and government. We learned from our brothers of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)," Jaafar added.

On September 2, 1996, the MNLF signed a peace treaty with Philippine government in exchange for autonomy. The MILF, which was formed from a disgruntled MNLF faction, says autonomy is insufficient.

Manila and the 11,900 strong MILF have been negotiating a peace agreement for several months, declaring many times to be close to a positive solution.

However, the peace talks were bogged down last month over the MILF’s demand to include close to 1,000 villages as part of their proposed future homeland without a referendum. Manila rejected the demand, saying it was against the Philippines’ Constitution. The government said it could only allow 600 pre-dominantly Muslim villages to be included in their proposeD homeland.

As a result, the MILF has warned talks might collapse and could end in war if the issue on the ancestral domain remains unresolved.

Well, if it’s absolutely and positively not in our national interest, then for sure the international community will want the US to go there.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “Philippine Muslims Want US As Peacekeepers”

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.

« Front Page | To Top
« | »