Indonesia wants peaceful resolution of Zamboanga conflict

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Indonesia yesterday underscored the peaceful resolution of the conflict between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga City.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said their government is concerned with recent developments in the ongoing armed conflict in Zamboanga City.

“As neighbors and as facilitator of the achievement of the Final Peace Agreement in 1996 between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro National Liberation Front, Indonesia urged all parties concerned to exercise restraint and ensure the safety and security of civilians,” Natalegawa said in a statement sent to The STAR by the Indonesian embassy in Manila.

“Peaceful solution is the only option that should be taken by both parties,” he said.

Natalegawa urged both parties to find a peaceful solution to the conflict and stand by the 1996 peace agreement.

“The 1996 Final Peace Agreement is a comprehensive agreement as the foundation for solving problems in the Southern Philippines for a just, comprehensive and sustainable peace,” he said.

Natalegawa said Indonesia is always ready, at the request of stakeholders, to contribute to the restoration of normalcy in southern Philippines.

The European Union also expressed concern over the conflict in Zamboanga as it called on the Misuari-led faction of the MNLF to release the civilian hostages without preconditions.

“We strongly condemn any violation of the international law and human rights of the civilian population in Zamboanga, especially those of women and children. We sympathize with the wounded and hurt, and offer our condolences to the families of the victims of this violence,” Thelma Gecolea, Public Affairs Officer of the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines, said in a statement.

Gecolea said the EU Delegation commends President Aquino for his firm commitment to achieve peace in Mindanao.

“We urge an unconditionally and immediate ending of the violence in Zamboanga and the release of all civilians. We further urge that all parties recommit irrevocably and exclusively to the political process and ongoing negotiations to ensure a lasting, just and peaceful settlement in Mindanao,” Gecolea said.

In a statement issued by the European Union Delegation to the Philippines in agreement with the EU ambassadors in the country, the EU urged all parties to recommit irrevocably and exclusively to the political process and ongoing negotiations to ensure a lasting, just and peaceful settlement in Mindanao.

The EU expressed concern over reports of an emerging humanitarian crisis, spurned by the growing number of evacuees forcibly moving out from the area of conflict.

The EU stressed the need for all sides to recognize international rules by allowing safe access of humanitarian organizations and assistance.

The MNLF has not formally asked Indonesia or any member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to intercede in the standoff with government troops in Zamboanga.

Indonesian Ambassador Yohanes Legowo said Wednesday that Jakarta has not received formal request from the MNLF for intervention.

The MNLF under Nur Misuari waged a 25-year guerrilla war for independence before signing the peace treaty in 1996 that allowed the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Misuari disappeared from public view shortly before the fighting broke out in Zamboanga Monday, but has accused the government of violating the terms of the 1996 treaty by negotiating a separate peace deal with the rival Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The government is in the final stages of peace talks with the MILF and is expected to take over an expanded autonomous Muslim region by 2016.

The MNLF resented being left out of the peace deal being brokered with the MILF. – With Jose Rodel Clapano


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