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Negotiators say peace is near

Government team believes agreement could be just round the corner

Negotiators say peace is near
Teresita Quintos-Deles
Efforts to end Muslim and communist insurgencies in the Philippines are progressing well, government peace negotiators announced last week at a Jesuit-run school. “The prospects for peace have never been this good,” said Teresita Quintos-Deles, head of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, at a forum at Ateneo de Manila University. According to Alex Padilla, head of the government panel negotiating with the communist-led National Democratic Front, formal negotiation were first held on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the people power revolution that toppled President Ferdinand Marcos. Padilla said both sides agreed to a proposed timeframe of 18 months to complete three agreements on socio-economic reforms, charter reforms and disposition of forces. “Thus, we can expect a comprehensive agreement on socio-economic reforms by September 2011, one on political and constitutional reforms by February 2012 and a final agreement to end hostilities and disposition of forces between June and August 2012,” he said. On talks with the Muslim rebels, chief government negotiator Marvic Leonen said negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were quite relaxed when they met in February in Kuala Lumpur. Among the challenges he cited is the idea of a devolved-state for the Moro embodied in the phrase “Filipino citizen but with a Bangsa Moro identity,” which might encourage regionalism. Deles told the forum she was optimistic over the outcome of the talks because all sides had a better understanding of what needs to be achieved. “Our ultimate goal is the safety and well-being of our people,” she said. “We must revive the peace process on the basis of a comprehensive understanding of the root causes of the conflict, under clear policies that pave and clear the way ahead, and which are driven by a genuine desire to attain a just and lasting peace,” she added. Related reports Key players speak out 25 years on Fair election in Mindanao ‘unlikely’ Vested interests dim ‘people power’ PL13613.1644

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