AN OFFICIAL said the appointment of the new members of the government panel negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is proof of the Arroyo administration's commitment to push through with the talks and a possible “substantive agreement” at the end of the President's term.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Annabelle Abaya acknowledged that a final peace agreement is already unlikely within President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's term but is positive of a consensus on the mechanisms that would ensure the continuity of the talks into the next administration.

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“I'm optimistic that we might achieve consensus on a mechanism that will allow negotiations to continue to the next administration, building on the learning and accomplishments that both panels have so far reached,” she said.

She added that the appointments of Western Mindanao State University president Grace Rebollos and Ateneo School of Government dean Antonio La Viña as new members of the government panel would also boost the talks and prove the government's commitment to proceed with the negotiations even as the Arroyo administration's term is set to end in June.

“I'm extremely pleased with the appointments because they are both highly qualified and competent for the job. This development should bolster the belief that government is serious about reaching a substantive agreement, despite time constraints.” she added.

Rebollos and La Viña replaced Tomas Cabili and Adel Antonino who recently resigned as GRP panel members following differences in peace negotiations styles. (JMR/Sunnex)