MILF WELCOMES GMA'S PEACE OVERTURES
Malacanang, Feb. 26, 2001 - The peace process in the Southern Philippines today got a big boost after the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) welcomed the hand of peace extended by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Government (GRP) peace panel chairman Jesus Dureza told journalists during a press briefing in Malacanang this afternoon that the MILF leadership has officially transmitted to him its response to the GRP panelís February 15, 2001 letter where the Muslim secessionist movement was informed of the new administrationís desire to resume the stalled peace talks.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and Acting Defense Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Chairman Dureza both said the letter of the MILF dated February 24 was a "breakthrough" in the official contacts with the MILF.
The letter, bearing a message from MILF Vice Chairman for Military Affairs Al Haj Murad, was received by the GRP panel only today. It was signed by MILF legal counsel Lanang Ali.
"The leadership of the MILF welcomes the message of peace extended by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to MILF Chairman Hashim Salamat and the Bangsamoro people of Mindanao," the MILF letter said.
However, the Philippine government was informed that the letter of Chairman Dureza was forwarded to the MILF Central Committee for discussion and appropriate action.
"In view thereof, the leadership of the MILF is not ready to send emissaries or representatives to your proposed meeting on February 26, 2001 in Davao City," Ali said.
The MILF assured the GRP panel that it will be informed of any development after the MILF central committee shall have taken action or resolution of Chairman Durezaís letter through Ali, the authorized representative of the MILF.
"This development has taken place in the backroom contacts we had been having over the past several weeks," Chairman Dureza said.
During the briefing, Chairman Dureza disclosed that the Arroyo administration has adopted a two-pronged strategy in its effort to reconstruct and rebuild Mindanao.
These are the pursuit of a peace accord with the MILF and the "simultaneous" development on the ground, which is the implementation of several development projects in Mindanao.
"We see that the peace negotiations may take a little time. We are hopeful but the people of Mindanao are also impatient. They are probably no longer fixing their eyes just on the peace accord but they want the government to already touch base with them on their problems," Dureza said.
He disclosed that touching base with the people of Mindanao, especially those affected by the recent armed conflict, will be done by the inter-agency committee recently created by the President and is headed by Secretary Ermita.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
© Copyright, 2001 by PHILIPPINE
HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved
Back to the PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE HomePage