Press Release
September 2, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today lamented the failure of the government to conclude a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) after several years of negotiations, which has discouraged the entry of investments in conflict areas in Mindanao and hampered the regions economic growth.

Pimentel echoed the frustration of Mindanaonons over the governments apparent lack of resolve to meet its target of concluding the peace talks with the MILF before the end of this year.

He was upset over the statement of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, former chief government negotiator in the Mindanao peace talks, that the administration is pursuing the negotiation without setting a definite deadline for wrapping up a final agreement.

There can be no meaningful deadline to the government-MILF peace talks unless a meaningful solution is proposed by the former and accepted by the latter, the lone senator from Mindanao said.

Pimentel said that solution is the installation of a federal state for the BangsaMoro people.

The government under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is ill-prepared to even discuss the matter because its bureaucrats and the President herself are blissfully unaware of the merits of the federal system of government, he said.

In the end, however, it is still Mrs. Arroyo who is to blame because the buck stops at her desk.

Pimentel said the peace talks between the government and MILF have gone long enough and its about time they wind up and strike a final settlement.

The Ramos government started to negotiate with the MILF in 1997 and this was continued by the Estrada administration. When Mrs. Arroyo came to power in 2001, she pursued the peace process and invited Malaysia to act as third country-facilitator and host of the series of formal talks in Kuala Lumpur.

Pimentel said it is a shame that after nine years of negotiation, a final peace agreement is not yet in sight and government and rebel negotiators are still locked in disagreement over contentious points of the ancestral domain issue.

Pimentel said the government-MILF peace talks have dragged on for so long.

He said the uncertain fate of the peace negotiations smacks of President Arroyos lack of political will to address a major source of political instability in Mindanao in particular and in the country as a whole.

Until she is ousted or she resigns, the so-called peace talks will remain in limbo and the rebellion in Mindanao will claim more lives and destroy more properties than ever before, he said.

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