DAVAO CITY -- People in Mindanao have called on the government to pursue peace talks with Moro rebels even if Malacañang admitted Saturday that it is impossible to ink a final deal under the Arroyo administration.

"I hope the peace talks between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will not be stopped for peace and harmony to reign in Mindanao. We don’t want violence anymore. We, the ordinary people, are the ones affected," said Abu Yasir of South Cotabato in vernacular.

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Anthony Adlawan, from Ilang, this city, believes that people in Mindanao should show love for their homeland by helping the government work for peace for they are the ones who will benefit from it.

"Love Mindanao. Love progress. Stop fighting. Just stop war. No ifs and buts," Adlawan said in his text message sent through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (Opapp).

"Sana nga magkaroon na ng kapayapaan sa buong Mindanao, mawala na lahat ng mga rebelde. Iyan ang gusto ko. Upang maging mapayapa na ang lahat," another texter from Sulu said.

Many also believe that the government should let Mindanaoans run Mindanao for they are the ones who know the real situation on the ground, and not people from the National Government who have no idea of what's happening.

Some are convinced that the political turmoil is the reason the Philippines, not only Mindanao, is lagging behind other countries in achieving a stable economic growth and expansion in business.

However, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Annabelle Abaya said in a statement that it is impossible to ink a final peace deal with the MILF under the outgoing administration.

“We are aiming not necessarily for a final peace agreement because we cannot make commitments for the next government. We cannot make guarantees because some proposals require constitutional change,” Abaya said.

She also said the government peace negotiating panel led by Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis and the MILF are trying to thresh out differences on the peace draft to be presented to the next government.

Seguis, she said, is also hopeful that sealing an interim peace agreement would be a good start for the next administration.

For his part, MILF civil-military affairs chief Eid Kabalu said election fever is the prime reason for another delay in forging a final peace agreement.

“Should that be the case, it is not surprising knowing that everybody is pre-occupied with the upcoming election,” Kabalu told Sun.Star in a text message.

He, however, reiterated that the MILF’s “commitment for the peaceful resolution of the problem remain strong.”

Securing a peace accord with the separatist group is one of the legacies President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wants to leave before she bows out from power on June 30.

Experts say the peace pact would eventually end decades of fighting in southern Mindanao. However, the Malaysian-brokered talks hit a constitutional snag in 2008 after the failed signing of an expanded Moro homeland agreement or the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD).

The Supreme Court ruling on the unconstitutionality of the MOA-AD drove some MILF commanders like Umbra Kato and Abdullah Macapaar, alias Commander Bravo, to launch deadly attacks on mostly Christian communities in the region.

More than 120,000 people have died in repeated clashes with government troops that stalled economic progress.

Both the government and MILF resumed talks though this January after a year-long impasse.

Last Thursday, the government met anew in Malaysia for a question and answer session, with both sides claiming different takes on the result.

The government is optimistic on the clarificatory talks but the MILF thought otherwise.

“The questions were direct and we got clarification on matters we wanted to know more about,” Seguis said in a statement.

The MILF, however, said the talks are at a standstill.

Seguis said both sides will hold the next round of talks in the coming weeks. (Virgil Lopez/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)