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    » 12/29/2008, 00.00

    PHILIPPINES

    Bishops: optimism over resumption of dialogue between government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front

    Santosh Digal

    All the members of the government delegation have been appointed. At Christmas, a ceasefire was observed by the army and the guerrillas.

    Manila (AsiaNews) - Some of the Filipino bishops have expressed optimism over the resumption of dialogue between the government and the rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), based in Mindanao in the south of the country.

    Last December 24, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appointed some new members of the government delegation. They include: Tomas Cabili Jr., a Catholic lawyer and businessman from Iligan City (Mindanao); the former mayor of General Santos City, Adilberto Antonino; former congressman Ronald Adamat of Upi (Maguindanao); and the secretary for agrarian reform, Nasser Pangandaman. The delegation will be headed by the undersecretary of the foreign ministry, Rafael Sequis.

    Antonino is intended to represent the local government and the Christian community; Adamat - who drafted the law on indigenous people's rights - represents the Lumad, the indigenous groups.

    Both government and non-government figures, including the Catholic Church, have long been pushing for the resumption of dialogue between the two sides, which broke down last September at the very moment when the agreement was supposed to be signed. The conflict between pro-independence Islamic guerrilla groups and the army have continued for decades on the archipelago of Mindanao, and the dialogue between the two sides has fluctuated. Orlando Quevedo, OMI, the archbishop of Cotabato, has stated that the dialogue should open "the path of peace," guaranteeing the Moros self-determination on the basis of the constitution, without violating national sovereignty or territorial integrity.

    Honesto Pacana, bishop of Bukidnon, has asked the government and the MILF to continue dialogue, even though there may sometimes be setbacks. Bishop Pacana has pointed out that what is making dialogue more difficult are certain questions like the expansion of military personnel in the area, the politicization of problems, and the presence of mining companies.

    Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro, president of the bishops' council for interreligious dialogue, has asked for a speedy resumption of the negotiations, taking advantage of the current period of peace and calm. During Christmas, the army and the guerrillas observed a ceasefire.

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    See also

    02/12/2008 PHILIPPINES
    Philippines, foreign affairs undersecretary appointed to dialogue with MILF
    Rafael Seguis, with a long diplomatic career behind him, will be in charge of resuming peace negotiations with the rebels of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Relations were broken off last September 3, following the failure to sign the Memorandum of Agreement. During the week for peace in Mindanao, Christian and Muslim leaders are visiting churches and mosques.

    03/09/2008 PHILIPPINES
    Philippines: Arroyo scraps peace agreement and excludes MILF from negotiating table
    It's a definitive split between the government and rebel groups of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, responsible for the recent wave of violence in Mindanao. There are almost half a million refugees on the island. The appeal of the Catholic Church, which, together with the Muslims, wants "true peace" for the country.

    18/08/2009 PHILIPPINES
    Dialogue between ethnic and religious groups only path for peace in Mindanao, Filipino priest says
    For Fr Leo S Pepito, building up “interpersonal relations” must go hand in hand with political efforts and socio-economic development. The promotion of a “dialogue for life” is part of the Catholic Church’s mission.

    11/11/2008 PHILIPPINES - VATICAN
    Pope prays for Mindanao's Muslims
    The Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy had asked for help in bringing an end to the humanitarian crisis in Mindanao, and in reviving talks between pro-independence Muslims and the government of Manila. Amina Rasul-Bernardo, the only Muslim woman to participate in the Christian-Islamic forum at the beginning of November, has written an account on her meeting with the pope: "He told me that he will pray for us."

    16/01/2009 PHILIPPINES
    MILF condemns humanitarian workers abduction as no one claims responsibility
    The Moro Islamic Liberation Front offers to help in getting the release of the kidnap victims. Abu Sayyaf has not claimed responsibility for the action and local sources exclude politics or religion were involved. Police is investigating the possible involvement of an employee working at a prison the three workers had just visited.



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