Other countries hopeful on peace process

MALAYSIA. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer (front left), chairperson of Philippine Government Peace Panel, and Mohagher Iqbal (front right), chief negotiator for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, exchange signed documents after the 43rd GPH-MILF Exploratory Talks in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. (AP file photo)

DAVAO CITY -- Foreign countries actively involved and supportive of the peace process in Mindanao have remained hopeful amid Sunday's encounter between government's security forces and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

The countries called on the Philippine government to conduct a speedy investigation on the incident to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators and those who plotted the foiled operation.

"The government (of Spain) trusts there will be a quick investigation into the facts and the consequent accountability so that the search for solid and long-lasting peace in Mindanao can be resumed with the most extensive consensus possible," Spain declared in a joint statement e-mailed by Peace Process Media Bureau to news organizations on Thursday.

In the same statement, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddel appealed to the public to stay the course of the peace process and not to sow fear and anger or worst fan a blood-thirsty call for retaliation.

"I think the only sensible thing I can say, when we are all trying to find out what exactly happened and why, is that how important it is for the people of the Philippines, including Mindanao, that the peace process is not discarded as a result of this tragedy and we are just hoping that that could be the case," he said.

He said the Mamasapano carnage, described as the government's biggest single-day combat loss in recent history, was a "very sad development for those of us who care to see peace in the Philippines."

At least 44 elite police forces were killed during the course of serving a warrant of arrest to two suspected terrorists, Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, and his local cohort Basit Usman.

Canada also expressed optimism the incident will not derail the peace process and allow it to move forward, instead.

Quoting Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, Neil Reeder, Canada's ambassador to the Philippines, said that despite the deadly clash, his country continues to support the peace process in Mindanao.

"Despite the gravity and depth of what's happened, we do believe in the peace process. We do believe in the aspirations of the country and the people in the Bangsamoro region to have a better life and we hope this won't derail that process and allow it to go forward," he said.

United Kingdom Ambassador to Philippines Asif Ahmad forwarded a Twitter post from Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire, saying: "Grim news of PNP officers killed in action in Maguindanao. Our thoughts are with the families of the men who died doing their duty." The Twitter message was posted on January 25. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)
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