A MALAYSIAN ambassador to the country said they are willing to follow President Benigno Aquino III's promise that the government will open talks to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) after Ramadan.
Ambassador Dato Seri Dr. Ibrahim Saad of the Embassy of Malaysia said Tuesday night that he talked to National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, and Mindanao Development Authority chair Jesus Dureza, among others, about their interest to mediate again for the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and MILF talks.
Saad, who paid a courtesy visit to Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, said the Malaysian government has actually finished choosing its members of mediating panel.
"Our visit is part of our visit to Mindanao in our expression and in support for the talks between the GRP and the MILF... I flew in and I first came to Davao as a first before I visit the other local government units of Mindanao," Saad said in an interview at Central 911 office along Ponciano St.
"We are happy that President Aquino has stated in his State of the Nation Address that he is willing to open talks again after Ramadan. We have prepared for this," said Saad, adding that the government of Malaysia has chosen who among its officials will be part of the mediation process.
As a protocol, Saad said he informed the country's officials Tuesday that "new faces" will compose their mediation panel from Malaysia.
"Considering that the Philippines has a new president and also Malaysia has a new Prime Minister, then most probably all the members of those who will talk will be new faces. From us, it will all be new," said Saad, referring to Prime Minister Dato' Sri Haji Mohd. Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, who was appointed in April 3, 2009.
As to where the peace talks would start, given most members of the peace panel will be new, Saad said they would start "from what has been agreed on."
"When we would reach a point when both sides have agreed then I think it would be a legacy that would be good for all of the Philippines, especially in Mindanao. Negotiation is never easy but we want this to go on," Saad said.
"We have new faces and I think we have to talk in a new way too. The president has changed, the people have changed, and the society has changed. I think we have to adjust to what we have now. A people's history should not be a stumbling block but a lesson. We have to learn from history," Saad said.
He said the talks have gone on for so long and constant looking back on what has transpired before will just make the process even longer.
Duterte met Saad and four other members of the Malaysian embassy inside the conference room of Central 911 and their conversation was open to the media.
Duterte said she was pleased that the Malaysian government "is very willing to help in the state of peace process between the government and MILF."
Other than the peace negotiations, Duterte and Saad also had a talk on the expansion of Malaysia's fashion culture of Muslim clothing. Saad said Davao's fashion designer Boy Guinoo has "created a great impression in fashion design worldwide." (JCZ)