Government to relaunch peace talks with MILF in KL
(The Philippine Star) - August 3, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The government peace panel is preparing to leave for Kuala Lumpur to resume the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In a television interview yesterday, presidential adviser on the peace process Jesus Dureza said they were instructed by President Duterte to go to Kuala Lumpur within the next two weeks to re-launch the peace engagement with the MILF.

Dureza said aside from the meeting in Malaysia, the government is also working on the coming peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) in Norway.

Earlier, Duterte said he would be spending 10 days in Mindanao to focus on building the framework for the Bangsamoro peace process, which will include the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). 

”I have to fix the Mindanao issue. I will look at the framework. I have to travel to Cotabato to talk again to hurry up and I will travel to Jolo to talk to (MNLF founding chairman) Nur (Misuari),” Duterte said.

Duterte said that he is willing to give Misuari a safe conduct pass for the talks.

“When you talk to the rebel, you have to give them a safe conduct pass, or at least a sense of security to face you and talk to you about what’s bugging the country,” Duterte said.

Duterte had also urged the 17th Congress to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) without the provisions deemed to violate the Constitution.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) called on the CPP-NPA-NDF to stop their finger pointing and simply admit their own lapses that forced President Duterte to lift the unilateral ceasefire he had declared.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP Public Affairs Office chief, said the CPP-NPA-NDF is simply misleading the public in their series of statements in connection with the termination of the government’s unilateral ceasefire.

“That is utterly false and misleading. We are issuing a statement because doubt is cast on the credibility of the AFP to implement lawful orders. We have on record a pull-out of AFP units from combat operations,” Arevalo said.

The CPP-NPA-NDF accused the AFP of sabotaging the unilateral ceasefire by launching continuous operations against the rebels.

Meanwhile, Zamboanga City Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar will wait for the official order of the government on the safe conduct pass that will reportedly be issued to Misuari, who is facing criminal charges for the bloody siege in Zamboanga City in 2013.

She assured the families of the victims of the MNLF siege that city officials would continue to seek justice for the victims.

Duterte said last Monday that he is scheduled to meet Misuari in Sulu and has ordered the military and police to allow the fugitive and his supporters to come out once the safe conduct passes were issued.

Misuari, who is hiding in his enclave in Indanan, Sulu, has a standing arrest warrant for the crime of rebellion and violation of the International Humanitarian law, genocide and other crimes against humanity in the aftermath of the Zamboanga City siege in September 2013.

At least 200 followers of Misuari who were captured after the siege are now detained in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City awaiting trial.

Salazar said the city’s legal team will study the order to grant safe conduct to Misuari.

“We are also with the people in our struggle and our aspirations for justice following the siege,” she said.

She added that during Duterte’s brief stopover in Zamboanga last July 21, the Misuari issue was brought to the President’s attention.

Salazar said she also conveyed to the President the feelings and sentiments of thousands of displaced victims affected by the three-week siege in the city. - With Roel Pareño

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