LIBERAL Party (LP) presidential bet Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III said Friday the government should not tie down the hands of the next president by rushing an agreement with Moro rebels.

"In less than five months, a new president will take over the reins of power. The most that this administration should do is to prepare the ground for the signing of a peace agreement," he told reporters in Davao City.

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He said the next president should be given the flexibility to deal with the long-standing conflict. “He must not be presented with a done deal that he may not agree with, or that the people could reject."

The LP bet was referring to a recent statement made by presidential peace adviser Annabelle Abaya that the government is looking forward to the signing of a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) before President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's term ends on June 30, 2010.

Abaya also said the peace talks will resume on February 18 in Kuala Lumpur, where both sides are expected to engage in substantive discussions on the proposals submitted last January 27.

Aquino's call echoes the stand of North Cotabato Governor Emmanuel Piñol, who suggested that the new president should be the one to sign a new peace agreement with the MILF.

Signing a peace agreement with the MILF would be good for the Arroyo administration but "what would happen if the next president would suddenly say 'excuse me but I think I'll have to review the agreement before I implement it'," said Piñol, who successfully challenged the memorandum of agreement on the ancestral domain before the Supreme Court.

Aquino has called for a "broadly-supported just peace" to end the Muslim rebellion and decades of neglect for the "Moro and other peoples of Mindanao."