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'Hold-up in talks could spark conflict'.

Manila: AaSenate minority leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr, from Mindanao, has warned that a long hiatus in peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels would be uncalled for and had the potential to trigger all-out hostilities in Mindanao.

"After the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) was repudiated by the Supreme Court for being unconstitutional, a long and indefinite hiatus in the peace process should be avoided to prevent the escalation of hostilities in Mindanao," Pimentel said.


He said the MILF had already indicated its willingness to pursue the peace process by saying it would not launch an offensive over the court rebuff.

"Since both sides remain committed to the peace process, they should seize the initiative to go back to the negotiating table as soon as possible instead of adopting a wait-and-see attitude," he said.

He called on the MILF leadership to abandon its plan to take the ancestral domain issue before an international forum and urged the government to formally offer the alternative federalism proposal to the rebel group in view of its declaration that it would not try to resurrect the flawed agreement on ancestral domain.

"If there is a logical course of action that the government should take, it is to make the establishment of a BangsaMoro federal state as part of a federalised Philippines the prime agenda for future negotiations," Pimentel said.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Oct 27, 2008
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