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Nation

MILF cautious over US interests in peace process

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DAVAO CITY — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is cautious about the interests of the international community, particularly the United States, in the ongoing peace process. Aside from the US, countries such as Japan, Australia, Canada and even the European Commission, as well as other international donor agencies, have signified intention in pouring additional financial assistance to Mindanao should a final peace accord be signed with the MILF.

But MILF peace panel secretariat chief Jun Mantawil expressed concern over such interest of the US in the peace process when in fact it was America that somehow planted the seeds of conflict in Mindanao. Mantawil blamed the United States for sowing the seeds of conflict in the south when it granted Filipinos independence in 1946 without separating from the rest of the country, Mindanao and Sulu, considered to be the homeland of the Bangsamoro people.

"Our people vehemently objected in joining the Flipinos in their quest for independence. But the US government did not listen to our pleas that we form a separate state or at least be an American colony until such time that we are ready for self-rule," according to Jun Mantawil, head of the MILF peace panel secretariat in a statement in the Luwaran.com, the rebel group’s official Web site.

The MILF came up with the statement despite the $300-million aid the Americans promised it would give to Mindanao once a final peace agreement shall be forged with the Moro separatist rebel group. On top of the promised development package, the US government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has been implementing several projects in Mindanao for the past years, including livelihood and technical assistance to former rebels of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Even the US Armed Forces has embarked not only on  joint military exercises but also on socio-economic projects in Sulu and other parts of Western Mindanao.

But these projects do not seem to appease the MILF. Mantawil insisted that the US could have prevented the existing conflict had it acceded to the pleas of the Moros that they be separated from the Filipinos.

"They did not because greater US interests were better served by putting them (the entire Philippines) together," Mantawil added.

Mantawil stressed that the US’ ignoring the petitions of the Moros resulted to the conflict when Filipinos subsequently continued to grab landholdings in Mindanao and Sulu supposedly belonging to the Bangsamoro people.

ARMED FORCES

BANGSAMORO

EUROPEAN COMMISSION

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

JUN MANTAWIL

MANTAWIL

MINDANAO

MINDANAO AND SULU

MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT

MORO NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT

UNITED STATES

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