Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Gov't Policy Statement To Boost Peace Talks With Mindanao Rebels

ILIGAN CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 27 Mar) – Top Philippine military officials are expected to issue a policy statement that will further strengthen the ongoing peace process in Mindanao.

Major General Mohammad Dolorfino, chairman of the government’s Ad hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), said that the Armed Forces’ Chief of Staff, General Hermogenes Esperon, will himself issue the statement that upholds the primacy of the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Dolorfino revealed this during a joint peace advocacy forum here at the weekend with the International Monitoring Team and the Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the Philippine government and MILF. Local government and village officials also attended the forum.

"General Esperon will issue new guidelines on the primacy of the peace process that must be observed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines", Dolorfino said. "Our Chief of Staff has always upheld the supremacy of the peace process," he told the Mindanao Examiner.

The Philippine Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade and the Philippine National Police in Northern Mindanao organized the advocacy drive in line with the efforts of the AHJAG, CCCH and IMT to keep abreast the respective armed forces with the developments on the ongoing peace talks with the MILF and observance of the cease-fire agreement.

Dolorfino did not give additional details about the policy statement, saying, the final draft of the new guidelines will be reviewed and discussed with Secy. Jesus Dureza, of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

But he pointed out that it will be a holistic approach framed towards the realization of a comprehensive, just, enduring peace resolution of the conflicts in Southern Philippines.

He said the AFP had been conducting military operations for many years but the problem still remains, adding, that "using security force cannot solve or end the conflict in Mindanao. We cannot allow achievement of tactical objectives at the expense of the demise of the peace process."

”Military action and success must be equated with its coherence to the strategic policy and objective of the national government that is putting a just end to the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)," Dolorfino said.

Appealing to all parties to collaborate efforts in attaining peace in the Bangsamoro region, Dolorfino reiterated the commitment of the government for the successful peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. “Instead of cursing the darkness, let us as well light a candle for peace and development," he said.

Dolorfino said it was the first time that the MILF joined the peace advocacy drive.

”We are happy with the result of the peace advocacy drive because it is the first time that the MILF chairman, Murad Ibrahim, allowed our MILF counterpart to join us in this important endeavor. From now on, we will conduct peace advocacy together with the MILF and the IMT, the AHHAG and the CCCH,” he said.

The MILF is the country’s largest Muslim rebel group fighting for a separate Islamic state. (Hassan Hatab, with reports from Merlyn Manos and Mark Navales)

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