09/10/2004, 00.00
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Malaysia and Brunei sending peace monitors to Mindanao

Manila (AsiaNews/AFP) – Nine Malaysian officials will arrive today to oversee a ceasefire between the Filipino government and Muslim separatists in Mindanao, southern Philippines. They will prepare the scheduled October arrival of a larger group of monitors from Malaysia as well as Brunei.

Filipino President Gloria Arroyo said that peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will begin anew in October. In February she had announced that after languishing for more than a year negotiations with MILF separatists would start again.

The Filipino government brought well-known Catholic leaders to the peace talks like Mgr Fernando Cavalla, President of Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines and Bishop of Davao, and Romeo Intengan, Jesuit Provincial Superior.

The Malaysian monitoring team coming in October will be made up of military officers, policemen and government officials. The Malaysian government even proposed a neutral location for the peace talks between government and rebels. Brunei will send ten officials.

It is important to note that the countries sending monitors –Malaysia and Brunei– are predominantly Muslim, whilst the Philippines are largely Catholic.

President Arroyo proposed that peace talks set up an amnesty commission for the separatists as well as present plans for regional development including inter-religious dialogue.

The southern Philippines, especially the Island of Mindanao, have seen for over 30 years fighting between government forces and Muslims separatists. The violence has caused so far more than 150,000 dead.

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See also
Repentance and forgiveness necessary in talks between government and separatists, Archbishop says
Bishops and ulema launch “historic project” for peace in Mindanao
Philippines: Arroyo scraps peace agreement and excludes MILF from negotiating table
Growing unemployment in the Philippines, also due to corruption and waste
Bishops: optimism over resumption of dialogue between government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front


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