Belmonte: Congress can act as third-party venue for government, MNLF-A A +A
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
CONGRESS can be the third-party venue for the Executive and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to come to a peace agreement, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said, amid the standoff between rebel elements under Nur Misuari and government forces in Zamboanga City.
"Currently, peace talks are taking place with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), as the government is still very determined to achieve a just and lasting peace in Mindanao. Whatever needs to be discussed with the MNLF, on the other hand, can be brought to a negotiating table and Congress can be the third-party venue for the Executive and the MNLF to come to terms for our nation," Belmonte said in a statement.
"There is no need for an international body to mediate on the matter but sincerity and calm from all parties involved," he added.
Belmonte said the House of Representatives condemns the "needless violence" taking place in Mindanao initiated by the MNLF.
"Violence has never been a solution to what the MNLF admitted is a political problem. There is no need for casualties and displace thousands of our people and disrupt their lives in an ironic fight with peace as supposedly the end product," the House leader said.
Misuari declared independence with his supporters in Sulu last month. The declaration of independence supposedly covers Palawan, Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and North Borneo or Sabah, which is controlled by Malaysia.
In a separate statement, Deputy Speaker and Lanao del Sur Representative Pangalian Balindong also condemned the acts of the MNLF, which he says, could deter the peace initiatives of the Aquino administration.
"We have already experienced too much suffering for many years, for many decades. We condemn the use of force in Zamboanga as it cannot do any good. In war, we are all losers, and war will bring us farther from our desired goal of peace," he said.
Meanwhile, Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said in a statement Tuesday, "The Philippine government stands firm in its quest for peaceful solutions to the conflict in Mindanao through inclusive dialogue and formal peace negotiations."
The statement posted at OPAPP's website disproves the claim of Misuari-led MNLF group.
"The group's willful intent to misunderstand and misrepresent the real status of the peace process was very clear. We call on Chairman Misuari to rein in his followers, and listen to the clamor of the Bangsamoro people for the advancement of a comprehensive peace agreement and the implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement, to which the Philippine government remains committed to achieve just and lasting peace in Mindanao," it said.
"We seek the people's support and prayers as our security forces and local governments work together to restore peace and order in Zamboanga City," the statement added.
The government and MILF issued a joint statement Tuesday condemning in the strongest terms the violence inflicted in Zamboanga City by elements of the MNLF.
"The perpetrators must be stopped and held accountable for their acts. Those behind the continued acts of violence in Mindanao do not want the current peace process between the Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to succeed. Their actions intend to derail the process using violence and disinformation to spread fear and chaos in Mindanao," the GPH and MILF peace panels headed by Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Mohagher Iqbal, respectively, said.
The firefight that broke out Monday killed at least six people, while about 20 others were wounded. Thousands of residents from the villages of Rio Hondo, Sta. Barabara, Sta. Catalina, Kasanyangan, Talon-Talon and Tetuan also fled their homes. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)