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MILF flags possible peace deal

Moro leaders say the ball is now in government's court

MILF flags possible peace deal
MILF panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal, center, stresses a point during a forum
Romy Elusfa, Quezon City
Philippines

May 19, 2011

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The Philippine government peace panel’s target to strike a comprehensive agreement with Muslim rebels within one year “is very possible,” according to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). “If the government is sincere, one year is enough (to ink an agreement), but if it is not, 10 years will not even be enough,” said MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal at a meeting with Church and civil society organizations at the Techno Hub in Quezon City today. Another panellist, lawyer Michael Mastura said the MILF had already abandoned its bid for independence and opted for a compromise known as a state-sub-state relationship. The draft proposal has already been submitted to the government panel, he said. The 74-page MILF Final Working Draft on Comprehensive Compact proposed an “asymmetrical state-sub-state” relationship between the national government and the Moro-governed region, which Mastura described as a structure that “balances the issues of state’s sovereignty and people’s right to self-determination.” But while the MILF is optimistic that an agreement could be reached within a year, it said it also has to prepare for the possibility that the talks may drag on longer. Iqbal said that was why they were preparing to hand over stewardship of the peace panel to younger Moro cadres within five years. “We would like to believe that the Aquino administration is sincere. We are very optimistic, but we are also observing very closely,” Iqbal said. He added the government panel, headed by Marvic Leonen, had promised to submit its counter proposal on June 27 when they are set to meet again. PL14267
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