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Thursday, Mar. 15, 2007 at 12:01 PM
firstname.lastname@example.org 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles,CA 90026
Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will soon issue an official policy statement on the peace process, in response to the March 12 statement of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This was learned from the office of the MILF chairman by Luwaran today. However, no hints have been given as to how the press statement would be worded or what specific issues would be given emphasis.
MILF to respond to Arroyo’s statement
March 14, 2007
Mindanao, Philippines--Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will soon issue an official policy statement on the peace process, in response to the March 12 statement of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This was learned from the office of the MILF chairman by Luwaran today. However, no hints have been given as to how the press statement would be worded or what specific issues would be given emphasis.
Earlier, on March 12 President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reiterated her earlier order to uphold the “primacy of the peace process,” as she ordered this time to “step up all measures to enforce the law, preserve the atmosphere of peace and stability, and advance the ongoing peace talks between the Government (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).”
She also ordered “restraint” in the use of artillery and aerial bombing in the conduct of military operations.
The President issued the seven-paragraph statement, the longest ever since she reopened the talks with the MILF in January 2001, after meeting with the Cabinet Cluster on National Security this afternoon.
Last week, the peace talks nearly collapsed following the skirmishes in Midsayap town in North Cotabato that left at least 18 persons dead. A new wave of villagers, in addition to those who had earlier evacuated, fled their areas to avoid getting caught in the crossfire.
Last week also MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal warned that the ceasefire it forged with the Philippine government is on the “verge of collapse” following show of “arrogance and defiance” by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) particularly the 6th Infantry Division under Major Gen. Nehemias Pajarito, which launched “consistent and deliberate violations” of the agreement in Maguindanao and North Cotabato.
He said the government is repeating what it did in 2000 and 2003 and it begins to appear that its avowed policy of the 'primacy of the peace process is now a rhetoric.
Ms Arroyo said the “best course of action” to ensure that the hostilities do not escalate and are exploited by lawless elements is for the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) “to work closely with the established mechanisms of the peace process—the joint ceasefire committees, the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group and the International Monitoring Team—to keep combatants in place; and increase vigilance against those intent at breaking the peace, at agitating the people, at pitting the Government against the MILF and communities against each other.”
Jun Mantawil, head of the MILF peace panel secretariat, told Luwaran that the statement is a positive step towards reinforcing earlier policy of the government for the primacy of the peace process.
However, he urged the government to rectify its military’s error by giving justice to all the victims of the AFP-initiated war in Midsayap, North Cotabato .
He said many people were uprooted from their dwellings and are now suffering in makeshift evacuation centers from various illnesses.He also urged the government to stop the massive landgrabbing activities of some migrants’ leaders in Midsayap and to return the original Moro landowners to their farmlands immediately.
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