Philippines: Mindanao peace talks will resume, Malacanang assures stakeholders

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Malacañang assured today that the stalled peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would resume immediately once the results of an "authentic dialogue" between the "stakeholders" of peace provide the government with necessary guidelines to carve out the fundamental steps towards achieving the cherished dream that has eluded Filipinos for decades.

In an interview this afternoon over Radyo ng Bayan, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza stressed that the government remains firmly committed to bringing about a lasting peace in Mindanao.

"The timeline for the resumption of peace talks is as soon as possible because the government's efforts to come up with a peace pact with the MILF is high priority in the policy listing of the President," Dureza said.

At the same time, he branded as unnecessary the call of a Muslim group for Pope Benedict XVI to convince the government to resume the peace talks.

In a letter, the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID) led by its lead convenor Amina Rasul Bernardo asked the Pope to help convince the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to resume the collapsed Mindanao peace process.

The Supreme Court voted to scrap the proposed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) last Aug. 4.

Before this, the Arroyo administration had announced a shift in its basic peace-negotiating premise from dialogues with rebels to dialogues with affected communities; demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR).

Prior to the paradigm shift in the government's negotiating policy, ragtag bands of MILF extremists launched a series of attacks on civilian populations in Mindanao.