Groups ask gov’t to speak as one in peace talks with MILF

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/10 February) — Two civil society groups greeted the resumption of peace talks yesterday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front with calls for the government to speak with a single voice to avoid a repeat of the 2008 Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain fiasco.

In a joint statement, the International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao and the Mindanao Solidarity Network urged the government peace panel and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process “to develop institutional partnerships with the other branches of government and the LGUs in order to consolidate the position of the Philippine government.”

The two groups noted that the issue of “continuing consultations” with all branches of government and various sectors figured prominently in the 2008 Supreme Court decision that declared the MOA-AD unconstitutional.

They said a consolidated government stand agreed upon through continuing consultations is needed so that “politicians with vested interest could no longer recycle this argument in challenging a forthcoming peace agreement”.

They expressed optimism the peace talks will succeed during the Aquino administration but stressed that “it can only succeed if it bears to mind the lessons of the past and will seriously address the gaps that led to the botching of the MOA-AD”.

Then North Cotabato vice governor Emmanuel Pinol and other local government leaders in Mindanao strongly opposed the MOA-AD and asked the SC to declare it unconstitutional.

Weeks after the SC decision came out MILF rebels attacked the towns of Kauswagan and Kolambugan in Lanao del Norte displacing thousands of civilians.

In the same statement, the two groups urged both peace panels to keep the public regularly informed on the progress of the peace talks even as they recognized the need to withhold sensitive information. They said peace networks in the country and abroad are willing to help the panels develop a joint communication strategy. (MindaNews)

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