Press Release
March 12, 2010

Aquino won't allow dismemberment of Mindanao
Will restart peace talks with MILF, NDF within first 100 days

Liberal Party standard bearer Benigno "Noynoy" S. Aquino III on Friday vowed to bring about a "transparent and consultative peace process" in Mindanao, but will not allow any dismemberment of the region as a means to end the insurgency there.

Aquino said it was unlikely that the current peace talks will move forward in the remaining days of the Arroyo administration, noting that the latest informal meeting in Kuala Lumpur between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ended in a deadlock.

Aquino said he would initiate peace talks with all rebel groups within 100 days of his administration, and work for a comprehensive settlement with the MILF and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front during his six-year term.

He would reshuffle the peace panel and ensure the participation of peace process stakeholders such as traditional Muslim leaders, the MILF, the Ulama, and the Bangsamoro civil society.

"There was a time when the peace process was doing well until the Arroyo Government began to use the peace negotiation as a prop for political survival," Aquino said. "I will reconstitute the peace panel with men and women of integrity who will directly report to me."

He stressed, however, that only a clean and trustworthy government could implement a transparent and all-inclusive approach to achieving lasting peace and sustainable economic development in Mindanao.

"The cycle of violence has bled our country and people for so long. Only a broadly-supported agreement will succeed in redressing decades of neglect and oppression of the Moro and other peoples of Mindanao," Aquino said.

Aquino also criticized the appointment of former peace adviser Jesus Dureza as chair of the newly established Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).

"He was one of the architects of the failed MOA-AD [Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain]. This president is making sure that she will leave behind people loyal to her and whatever agenda she is bent on pursuing after June 30, 2010," Aquino said.

The signing of the MOA-AD between the government and the MILF was aborted after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order and later on nullified the MOA-AD as unconstitutional. The botched agreement triggered renewed hostilities between government and MILF forces after rebel units attacked civilian communities in Central Mindanao.

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