DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/13 September) – The foreign minister of Malaysia, the third party facilitator in the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), will arrive in Manila Monday for a scheduled meeting with President Benigno Aquino on Tuesday.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles told MindaNews in a text message that the meeting was sought by Malaysia. She said she did not know “the full agenda but for sure the peace talks would be part of it.”
Deles paid a courtesy call on Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato’ Sri Anifah Hj Aman, in his office in Malaysia on September 2, to officially inform him of the Philippines’ decision to retain Malaysia as third-party facilitator in the peace process and to discuss the resumption of the talks “scheduled sometime mid-September,” a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Malaysia, said.
“In response, Dato’ Sri Anifah conveyed Malaysia’s gratitude and appreciation an over the decision for Malaysia to play a role in the peace process and will seriously consider the request for Malaysia to continue as a facilitator,” it said.
President Aquino in his first State of the Nation Address on July 26, had expressed hope the peace negotiations “will begin after Ramadan.”
Aquino then said: “Our view has not changed when it comes to the situation in Mindanao. We will only achieve lasting peace if all stakeholders engage in an honest dialogue: may they be Moro, Lumad, or Christian. We have asked Dean Marvic Leonen to head our efforts to talk to the MILF. We will learn from the mistakes of the past administration, that suddenly announced an agreement reached without consultations from all concerned. We are not blind to the fact that it was done with political motivation, and that the interest behind it was not that of the people. We recognize the efforts of the MILF to discipline those within its ranks. We are hopeful that the negotiations will begin after Ramadan.”
Ramadan ended September 9. The President is hosting his first formal sit-down dinner in belated celebration of Eid’l Fitr, Monday, September 13.
Fifteen days after taking his oath of office as President, Aquino named Leonen, Dean of the University of the Philippines’ College of Law as government peace panel chair. Leonen’s panel is composed of former Agriculture Secretary Senen Bacani who served under President Cory Aquino, UP Political Science Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Upi Vice Mayor Ramon Piang and the new head of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos.
The MILF announced its new panel composition today, retaining Mohagher Iqbal, MILF information chief, as chair, Datu Michael Mastura and Maulana Alonto as members.
Replacing lawyers Lanang Ali and Musib Buat are Abdullah Camlian, former chair of the MILF peace panel’s technical committee, and Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga, executive director of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies.
B’laan Datu Antonio Kinoc serves as alternate member. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)