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    » 12/02/2008, 00.00

    PHILIPPINES

    Philippines, foreign affairs undersecretary appointed to dialogue with MILF

    Santosh Digal

    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.

    Manila (AsiaNews) - The Filipino government has appointed a new representative for peace discussions with the rebels of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Filling this delicate role will be the current foreign affairs undersecretary for special concerns, Rafael Seguis, personally selected by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

    The committee charged with resuming peace talks with the Islamic militants is made up of the newly appointed representative and four other members, whose names have not yet been made public. It is the first time that a diplomat still in service will fulfill this kind of delicate role, but the situation of tension and the sudden interruption of peace negotiations has prompted the government to select a figure of unquestioned competence.

    Rafael Seguis (in the photo, on the right) has a long career behind him: he was the Filipino ambassador to Indonesia, East Timor, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, and Jordan. He has participated in various conferences organized by Islamic movements, and is seen as "highly qualified." The appointment of the other four members of the committee should be announced - according to government sources - within two weeks.

    The Filipino government says that the leaders of the MILF appreciate the appointment of Rafael Seguis as head of the negotiations. "We are happy to learn," says Eduardo Ermita, executive secretary of the government, "that the MILF appreciates the appointment of Seguis to head the peace committee." It is a sign of hope in the peace talks, suddenly cut off last September 3 after the controversy following the failure to sign the Memorandum of Agreement that would have led to the creation of an autonomous Muslim majority region in Mindanao.

    In the meantime, events continue for the week for peace in Mindanao, which ends tomorrow, December 3. In recent days, religious and secular leaders and the faithful have promoted a gesture full of significance in order to foster interreligious dialogue: the Christians, priests and laity, have visited the local mosque, while the Muslims have reciprocated by visiting the Christian church. In an open letter, the Muslim leaders have also emphasized that "if Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace."

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    See also

    29/12/2008 PHILIPPINES
    Bishops: optimism over resumption of dialogue between government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front
    All the members of the government delegation have been appointed. At Christmas, a ceasefire was observed by the army and the guerrillas.

    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."

    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.

    02/06/2005 PHILIPPINES
    Peace between Moro rebels and government near


    04/09/2009 PHILIPPINES
    More education for the young and less politicking are the path to peace in Mindanao
    A member of Silsilah, a joint Muslim-Christian group that promotes interfaith dialogue, says that 40 years of conflict in Mindanao have led Christians and Muslims to mistrust one another. Only teaching the young about the value of dialogue and non-violence can real, lasting peace be achieved.



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