Philippines dissolves peace panel

Government not to sign over more land and rights to Muslims in the south.

    Arroyo said the government is not abandoning years of talks to end the bloody conflict [AFP]

    On Wednesday Arroyo reiterated the government's refusal to sign over more land and rights to Muslims in the resource-rich south.

    "In light of recent violent incidents committed by lawless violent groups, the government will not sign the MOA-AD (memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain)," she said in a statement.

    "Our commitment is to peace, the constitutional process and rule of law. There will be no peace gained through violence, no peace agreement will be reached through intimidation or the barrel of the gun."

    An official announcement of her decision is expected later today.

    'No more talks'

    Jesus Dureza, an Arroyo spokesman and former peace adviser, said there will be "no more talks".

    Violence resumed after the peace deal fell through last month [EPA]
    "We're dissolving the peace panel. You don't need it when you're ending talks with an armed group," he told Reuters.

    "We'll start consulting with the people on the ground and find out how can
    we resolve the Muslim problem."

    Dureza said the shift in focus came after rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) attacked communities on the southern island of Mindanao last month, killing civilians and burning property.

    The government and the MILF were supposed to sign the peace deal on August 5 in Malaysia, creating an ancestral homeland for 4 million Muslims in the south.

    But the deal on the size of a Muslim homeland and a future government's powers failed following protests by local Roman Catholic politicians and community leaders.

    From 2001, Malaysia has been brokering the peace talks and last month agreed to keep its 12 unarmed troops on Mindanao for another three months to help monitor a truce agreement since July 2003.

    The conflict has killed about 120,000 people, displaced two million and stunted growth in an impoverished region believed to be sitting on huge deposits of metals and hydrocarbons.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Will you push the boundaries or play it safe?

    Will you push the boundaries or play it safe?

    Curate an art exhibition and survive Thailand's censorship crackdown in this interactive game.