DAVAO CITY -- A top official said the Moro rebels who recently resumed peace talks with the government will be asking for an “enhanced autonomy” that will include an area in North Cotabato.

"Pagkatapos na mabigong maisulong at mapirmahan ang MOA-AD (memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain) dahil sa pagbasura dito ng Korte Suprema, isang 'enhanced autonomy' ang hihingin ng MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) mula sa pamahalaan,” said North Cotabato Vice Governor Emmanuel Piñol on Friday.

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Piñol, who met with government peace panel chairman Ambassador Rafael Seguis at the Waterfront Hotel in this city on Friday, said the demand will be presented by the MILF during its January 27 meeting with the Philippine government peace talks’ panel in Malaysia.

Malaysia, according to Seguis, has returned to the renegotiated Mindanao peace process by rejoining the International Monitoring Team (IMT) as its leader effective the middle of February. It remains the facilitator of the peace talks between the government and MILF.

Piñol said that to be included in the enhanced autonomy that the Moro rebels are demanding is the Palma-P area in North Cotabato, which comprises of the towns of Pigcawayan, Alamada, Libungan, Midsayap, Aleosan, and Pikit.

With this development, Piñol asked the local leaders in North Cotabato, especially those in Palma-P area, to issue resolutions opposing the MILF demand.

"Isantabi natin ang pulitika, at manindigan ng sama-sama para iparating sa pamahalaan at sa MILF ang ating tinig, na ayaw nating mapasama sa hihinging 'enhanced autonomy'," he said.

The vice governor assured that the Provincial Board will come out with a resolution supporting the Palma-P towns’ opposition to the “enhanced autonomy” demand of the Moro rebel group.

He readily tasked Board Members Romeo Araña and Ronaldo Pader to go around the Palma-P towns and encourage local leaders to oppose the MILF plot.

Seguis, for his part, said although the MILF’s usual point of reference during the meeting in Malaysia is the issue of a Bangsamoro ancestral domain or a separate homeland for Muslims, the government will "never compromise" on what is constitutionally-mandated as Philippine territory.

He said invited in meeting are the governments of Norway, Indonesia, and Qatar. Their response, however, is still awaited.

The province of North Cotabato has long been opposing its inclusion in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) and recently the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE). (BOT/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)