Philippine gov't, MILF agree to dispose landmines

13:54, May 18, 2010      

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The Philippine government and the nation's separatist group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have agreed to dispose landmines and other unexploded ordnance.

Ryan Mark Sullivan, director of the Government Peace Negotiating Panel, told reporters on Tuesday that the government has signed an agreement with the MILF on May 5 that will pave the way for both parties to work together for the destruction and disposal of the landmines and unexploded ordnance.

The move is a positive step in furthering the peace negotiations between the two sides especially since unexploded ordnance and landmines pose serious threats to the safety of civilians in conflict-areas in Mindanao.

In a separate development, Sullivan said four non-government organizations (NGOs)--the Non-violent Peaceforce, the Mindanao Peoples Caucus, the Mindanao Human Rights Action Center, and the Moslem Organization of Government Officials and Professionals-- have been asked to protect civilians in the conflict-torn areas.

The NGOs will form part of the International Monitoring Team which was created under the Civilian Protection Component signed by both parties last October 27.

The MILF has been fighting government troops for decades to establish a self-rule Muslim state in the south of the predominantly Catholic country. Peace talks between the government and the MILF remain stalled since August 2008 following the aborted signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain.

However, efforts are being undertaken by both sides to revive the talks. A final peace deal with the government will touch the issues of autonomy and the civil settlement of the rebel group's 11,800-strong guerrilla fighters.

Source: Xinhua
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