Press Release
January 18, 2007


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is lifting her own bench without any credible reason at all by boasting that the governments peace negotiation with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front should serve as a model for other countries that are trying to end their insurgency problem through the peace process.

Pimentel said the President was weaving a deceptive tale when she portrayed the government-MILF peace talks as a success in her address at the just-concluded 12th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cebu City.

The lone senator from Mindanao reminded Mrs. Arroyo the government failed to fulfill its objective to forge a final peace agreement with the MILF in 2006 and in previous years despite the fact that the peace negotiation has dragged on for nearly 10 years already.

The President is dreaming again. She is out of touch with reality. The so-called peace process with the MILF has been going on for years with hardly a step forward, Pimentel said.

The peace talks with the MILF began in April, 1997 under the Ramos government, or a year after it signed a peace accord with the Moro National Liberation Front, led by Chairman Nur Misuari. The talks were carried on by the Estrada government but when they collapsed, fighting erupted anew. The negotiation was resumed by the Arroyo government in 2001.

Although there is a general ceasefire between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the MILF army, Pimentel said the people in the areas of conflict are often displaced and are living in CONSTANT fear due to sporadic clashes and terrorist activities by wayward elements of the rebel group.

The unstable peace and order condition has scared investors and tourists, resulting in continued retardation of the economic development of the areas affected by the Muslim insurgency.

Pimentel said the peace negotiation has dragged on for an inordinately long time because the Arroyo government is perceived to be short of the political will to offer more pragmatic solution to the decades old secessionist problem.

People see the process as running in place to expend sweat. Unless and until the government provides a comprehensive framework for the establishment of peace in Mindanao like the adoption of the federal system and creating a federal state for the Bangsa Moro people, secessionist wars will continue to hound the country, he said.

And no amount of tomfoolery from the President can hide the fact that her optimistic appraisal of the peace negotiations may be summed up in three words: pure hot air.

For more than a year now, the peace talks have been bogged down by the stalemate over the issue of ancestral domain.

Noting the reports about the alleged involvement of MILF rebels in kidnapping and bombing incidents in Mindanao, Pimentel said the protracted hiatus in the peace talks causes tension to build up between the two sides, triggering an outbreak of hostilities.

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