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Filipino opinion over peace talks divided

Fingers crossed to see if rivals can end decades-old insurgency

Civil groups conduct local ‘peace talks’ in Muslim and Christian communities in Mindanao Civil groups conduct local ‘peace talks’ in Muslim and Christian communities in Mindanao
  • Rick R. Flores, Davao City
  • Philippines
  • February 4, 2011
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Christians and Muslims in the southern Philippines hope the resumption of formal peace talks between the government and Muslims will be a success, but differ over how and whether peace can be achieved.

The talks, due to start in Malaysia on Feb. 9, have aroused significant debate and there is no shortage of opinion.

“I don’t think a final peace agreement is attainable within President Aquino’s term,” said Timothy Saldan, a local business analyst.

Wilfred Burton, a non-government organization worker, said peace issues with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have been disappointing and exhausting.

“I’ve hearing these issues since I was in high school and I’m tired of it. Can the MILF offer something? Can the government finally resolve this problem?” Burton said.

Christine Sumog-oy, program officer of the Mindanao Peace-building Institute, said the Mindanao problem requires “sincerity” by the government and the rebels.

Filipinos must recognize the “historical oppression done against the indigenous Moro inhabitants of Mindanao,” she said.

“There is no way to put an end to this ongoing war unless you deal with the legitimate aspirations for self-determination in a peaceful manner,” Sumog-oy told ucanews.com.

Ustadz Rahib Kudto, a Muslim peace advocate in Cotabato City, said people should not be allowed to derail peace efforts.

“Let us not highlight the bad images of war. Let us never allow these ‘peace-blockers’ to sneak in and deprive us of our rights to live in peace and harmony,” Kudto said.

Clarisse Durano, a member of a Catholic students’ organization, echoed Kudto’s call. She said Christians and Muslims “need to solidify unity and support the peace process because it will benefit all of us.”

Ardan Sali, convener of the Bangsamoro Youth Leaders Forum, said a “just and lasting peace is achievable under the present administration [of President Benigno Aquino] because he has raised the confidence of young Muslims.”

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