Press Release
September 16, 2013


Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel today renewed his appeal for an immediate ceasefire as he called on gunmen of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to spare the children, women, the elderly and other non-combatants caught in the crossfire of the Zamboanga City armed hostilities with government troops.

Pimentel said both parties should negotiate for an immediate truce in good faith because bullets will not ensure the resolution of the problem, sparked by decades-old aspirations by the Muslims to secede from the country and establish their own Bangsa Moro Republic in Southern Philippines.

He said that after the cessation of hostilities, the government and the MNLF should then go to the negotiating table to discuss the terms of a lasting peace agreement or seek the help of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) when domestic talks fail.

But should there be no resolution at the ASEAN level, the MNLF could still elevate the issue to the United Nations (UN) as the final arbiter of the conflict which has so far claimed several lives from both sides, including innocent civilians in addition to properties destroyed by fire.

Pimentel said that the peace we seek is more than the stilling of the guns as he noted that the first sign of an attempt to stop the fighting broke down because of continued exchanges that only added more miseries to the civilian population, many of whom have been forced to evacuate their homes.

The paramount interest at the moment, Pimentel added, is the safety of the civilian population as he pressed both the government and the MNLF factions to agree to a cessation of hostilities while details of a peaceful settlement of the conflict are tackled on the negotiating table.

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