MILF: No facilitator, no peace talks

THE secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front has ruled out any peace talks with the Philippine government unless the latter agrees to the demand of the MILF to allow a Malaysian facilitator to join the negotiating table.

“Without a facilitator, how would the talks resume?” said Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief peace negotiator in a released Saturday, December 25.

Iqbal made the statement after news reports quoted Secretary Teresita “Ging” Quintos-Deles of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process as saying that the government and the MILF would resume talks in January 2011.

Iqbal said that the government had continued its character assassination of Malaysian facilitator Datuk Othman bin Abd’ Razak.

He said the government’s claim of Razak’s “bias to the MILF is not doing any good to the peace process.”

“We have requested the Malaysian government to retain (Razak) as facilitator and this still stands. It is not in the MILF mind to meet in January if the facilitator’s issue is not settled,” said Iqbal.

The MILF leader also urged the government to stop the arrest of the Islamic group’s members and immediately release MILF political detainees.

Iqbal said that if the government could release the “Morong 43” health workers, who are being tagged by the military as members of the New People’s Army, it could also free MILF political detainees.

Among them are Engr. Edward Guerra and Commander Aguilar Saligan, according to Iqbal.

“The release is a good confidence-building measure for the Aquino administration, which is steadily losing moral ascendancy in the present talks due to calibrated alibis not to start talks in July,” he said.

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