Philippines says to review, not cancel, peace deal

The peace deal, which envisaged the enlargement of a Muslim autonomous area in the Mindanao region, has been halted by the Top Court pending hearing an appeal by Christian groups

Philippines says to review, not cancel, peace deal
The Philippines said on Thursday it would review a peace deal with the country's biggest Muslim group after fighting broke out this week, softening an earlier stance that the agreement would be cancelled.

But a senior leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rejected calls for re-negotiating the deal, throwing efforts to end the decades-long conflict in Mindanao region into further disarray.

"The present situation...in Mindanao leaves us no choice but to review and revisit the provisions contained in the memorandum of agreement," Lorelei Fajardo, a spokeswoman for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, said in a statement.

An earlier statement had said the agreement would be scrapped.

"She (Arroyo) will seek peace within the boundaries of law set within the constitution."

The peace deal, which envisaged the enlargement of a Muslim autonomous area in the Mindanao region, has been halted by the Supreme Court pending hearing an appeal by Christian groups that it was unconstitutional.

The MILF rejected any possibility of re-negotiating the deal.

"We will not re-negotiate, it's already finished," Mohaqher Iqbal, the group's chief negotiator, told reporters. "It's been three years and eight months."

"They studied it and scheduled the signing and then they cancel everything. What is that?"

Muslims did not accept the cancelling of the deal after agreement and thay took the villages which the deal gives to Muslims. But MILF decided to pull out of the villages when governement forces opened fires on the villages and bombed them. Earlier the last week about 40 people killed in the conflict.

After MILF decision pulling out, the government pursue the MILF members. The military said five people were wounded in fighting on Wednesday.

The Philippine government and the 11,000-member MILF have been in on-off talks for more than a decade on how to give Muslims more self-rule in the south.

"Negotiations, honest negotiations, can only happen and become effective only in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility," Arroyo's political adviser Gabriel Claudio told reporters.

"We cannot allow a situation where we talk peace, we undertake a peace process, and the parties concerned are taking up arms."


Reuters
Last Mod: 21 Ağustos 2008, 13:45
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